Oct 292018 2 Responses

When Chaos Swirls and Evil Reigns

Chaos. Few words describe American culture today as much as chaotic. The 24-hour news cycle is an unending circus. When they aren’t reporting stories about chaos, they are creating them. Our political climate is a joke. A system designed for debate and compromise has devolved into name-calling and gridlock. Collectively society feels divided and anxious. While many things have never been better, everything feels extremely unstable.

In these moments, we desperately need leadership. Yet the only thing more frightening than the chaos swirling around us is the feeling that evil is ruling over us. The values of God are ignored. The presence of God is denied. Maybe it’s been like this before, but the world feels like a pretty dark place these days.

What is a Christian response when chaos swirls and evil reigns?

We are tempted to fight. When it doesn’t work to treat others the way we want to be treated, we often begin to treat others the way we think they are treating us. Why else would Jerry Falwell Jr. tweet that too many Christian leaders are wimps? He wants to fight. Like my children, human nature wants to hit back when we get hit. Even if we love Jesus, we still face this temptation. It’s never the right thing to do, but it is always the most pressing temptation.

Yet the New Testament points to a different way.

The book of James is written to a group of Christians who lived under conditions which seem familiar to us. While many of their circumstances were different, they lived in a culture dominated by unbelievers and were tempted to take on the characteristics of that culture instead of following the way of Jesus.

After warning the rich oppressors who were abusing and exploiting the Christians, James turns his attention to instructing those who followed Jesus. We could expect him to encourage them to fight back or dust the dirt off their feet to symbolically curse the evil society, but instead, he gives a very simple instruction.

Be patient.

What’s happening to them is wrong. It’s unjust. It’s not the way God designed things to be. But their responsibility is to be patient in the midst of what they are experiencing. Not to grumble, but to stand fast in the way of truth and to trust that in the end God will prove Himself true.

It’s a message desperately needed today. (See: When Life Seems Out of Control)

A believer in Jesus should have a radically different perspective on the circumstances of this world than those who do not follow Him. While we mourn that things are not right and work for the sake of justice because it is a character of God, we don’t have to fret or freak when things don’t go our way. Because we trust Jesus, we can patiently wait for Him to work things out, knowing that He will.

The Patient Farmer

James encourages the people to look to the patience of a farmer as a model for their response to life not going as they think it should. Consider how a farmer shows patience:

Trust the seasons. It would be silly for a farmer to plant in winter or to harvest in spring. Every action has an appropriate time and place. Patience doesn’t mean apathy, but it does mean doing what is required for this season and saving for later what is meant for another time. When we try to let the ends justify the means, we are refusing to live in our proper season. We are showing impatience with God.

Believe in what is unseen. The great imagery of the farmer is that they must do a lot of work without immediate evidence of success. They plant a seed, but don’t see a crop for some time. So it is for us. There are many actions which we are called to do, but we won’t see an immediate response. Love, forgiveness, mercy, and peacemaking may not produce an immediate crop of success, but the actions are still the right ones to take. Speaking truth in love may not get the response we desire, but it is still the call of a Christian. When we believe the seen over the unseen, we become impatient with God and take things into our own hands.

Accept what you don’t control. The farmer controls a lot–what they do with the soil, what they plant, when they plant, etc–but there is much they do not control–rain, sun, wind, disease, etc. A farmer has to distinguish between what is their responsibility and what belongs to others, including God. They must work diligently on what they control, but they must have great faith regarding the things they cannot influence. We are the same way. We control a lot, but we don’t control everything. We must patiently accept those things which are outside of our influence.

We live in chaotic times. Even as the chaos swirls, many around us are not submissive to the ways of God. Yet their actions do not excuse us to forsake the ways of God. Patience is expressed in one simple way–obedience. When we are patient with God, we obey Him. Even when His commands don’t make sense or fail to produce the outcome we desire, our job is simply to obey. Failing to do so is a sign of impatience. (See: When It Feels Like Darkness Is Winning)

No matter how chaotic our days, we can trust God. He has a plan. He knows what He is doing. His will is ultimately for our good. Be patient.

2 Responses to When Chaos Swirls and Evil Reigns
  1. […] In chaotic times, we must quiet the voices. (See: When Chaos Swirls and Evil Reigns) […]... https://www.kevinathompson.com/in-chaotic-times-quiet-the-voices

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