Another foreground / background opportunity presents itself. It is easy to experience a foreground of Jesus. He speaks, he acts, he touches, he feeds, he probably even smells. It is less easy to get a handle on that which Jesus claims is the background against which we might receive a larger setting in which we are also a foreground of it and capable of being experienced in the same way Jesus was, or even beyond such.
What is the "Father" background that is so spoken of and so invisible to us? At base it is simply the energy source for Jesus to be able to see what is around him and to say, "Here is what you have been taught, the limitations within which you operate," and then to go on to say, "But here is a new teaching that expands your meaning by expanding your background."
We appropriately ask about the background against which we act. In doing so, however, we take our eye off the foreground of Jesus, of one another, of ourself and in losing focus on what is present. With this either/or we lose track of questions about the context of the present - "How did we arrive where we are?" and "what would be better than this and how do we take a step in that direction?"
This same dynamic needs better attention paid to it regarding politicians and stealth candidates that run one way and govern another.
A helpful tool for this is to pay attention to the polarities of life, its yin and yang, its background and foreground, its paradoxes, dilemmas, and tensions.
If you are not familiar with polarities, here is a quick overview.
In church life it would be helpful to pay attention to those arenas where we are tempted to go with foreground or background rather than saying "yes" to both. From MANAGING POLARITIES IN CONGREGATIONS: Eight Keys for Thriving Faith Communities here are some common stumbling places as emphasis is put on one side or the other, losing sight of both/and:
- Tradition AND Innovation or stability AND change
- Spiritual health AND Institutional Health
- Management AND Leadership
- Strong Clergy Leadership AND Strong Lay Leadership
- Inreach AND Outreach
- Nurture AND Transformation
- Making Disciples– Easy Process AND Challenging Process
- Call AND Duty.