After this Sunday’s message on facing chaos, conflict and pain, I got soooooo many requests (one) for the slide I created (actually L. Duggins created it). Not only did I get many requests (still only one request), I saw several people taking pictures of the slide during the sermon which was kind of flattering (pretty sure my dad was the only person taking pictures of the slide. He probably posted it on his Linkedin account).
So. Here it is.
The basic idea is that our world is filled with weeds (conflict, chaos, pain) and will be until Jesus returns with such power the material universe will be purged from all death and decay. Until that time we are to face reality at all costs. The reality of our world is that it is often filled with chaos, conflict and pain. We must choose to face chaos. Eugene Peterson said this in As the Kingfish Catches Fire regarding church and reality:
Church is not a place in which we cut ourselves off from reality. It is a place where we face the world as we find it with courage and the whole armor of God.
Learning how to face the chaos, as is appropriate, is precisely the place we are going to find all that we are made for:
Deep relationship with God
Satisfying relationship in community
Life sustaining purpose and passion
We all say we want these things and yet we are unwilling to do the work necessary for deep and meaningful relationships with God and others. We lament how our job is undeserving of our time and talent, yet we won’t deal with the difficult reality that it takes deep work to discover and walk in a purpose that is life sustaining.
Recently I have been watching Batman Begins for the 1,000th time. Bruce Wayne, our lovable billionaire orphan, goes on a journey that takes him around the world. To me it seems that Bruce is looking for a way to understand the tragic loss of his parents and make sense of the injustice that took them away from him. He is looking for meaning.
becomes Batman (am I really referencing this? Is it cheesy? I don’t care. It is a great movie), he has to face his fears and confront the darkness. In that place of facing chaos, fear and pain, you see him changed.
God is inviting us into a deeper place with Himself and with others. I believe God is working in our church to clarify our individual passions and purposes. Yet we have work to do - the deep work of caring and cultivating our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). We are called to face the chaos, as is appropriate, with God and others. When we deal with the reality of our hearts we might find the occasional dragon, snake, or bat. That is scary. That is uncomfortable! And that is precisely where God desires to meet us. Not just that He has to because He is God and has to save us. God actually desires to walk with you in those places we try to avoid or hide. When we meet God in that place we will come to find out that what Brennan Manning said is gloriously true, “God loves you as you are and not as you should be, because you’re never going to be as you should be.”
The good news is, as we learn to face the chaos that is close at hand, we will get the very thing we want - deep relationship with God and others. Not only that, as we embrace the world as it is, I believe the life we’ve always wanted will be on the other side. Not a life void of pain or conflict, but a life filled with meaning and passion.
Forgive me a little MuteMath to play you out with their song “Chaos”
- John Bower
Lead Pastor // Elder