The Great Collapse
As I write this, the recent failure of one of America’s largest banks is causing great unrest among many in the financial world and beyond. I’m a listener to a broad spectrum of news content, so it is no surprise to me that rather than finding ways to work together on problems we have in common, we instead retreat into our respective ideological corners. The blame game spins up, the talking points are created, distribution channels are confirmed, and yet another war of words launches into the cultural lexicon we’ve created. Obviously, this is Joe Biden’s fault…obviously, this is Donald Trump’s fault. Actually, this is our fault.
Selective outrage is the language of our present existence, and we’ve collectively bought into it more than I’d like to admit. We feed on it, and when I say ‘we,’ I include those of us who claim redemption at the foot of the cross. Far too many who claim Jesus as Lord, myself included at times, spend far too much time girding our loins for battle around like-minded people—often over coffee—further cementing a culture that builds an us-against-them world with a fear of the future and a hatred of who we are becoming as a country.
Selective outrage is the language of our present existence, and we’ve collectively bought into it more than I’d like to admit.
As Christ-followers, it seems to me that a ‘sky is falling’ mentality about our world should not be surprising. After all, the Bible seems to indicate that some pretty disastrous things will befall humanity as it insists on pursuing darkness. The Gospel of Luke records a perspective that we might glean from: “…so when these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” I’m not sure we’re doing that. Why are we afraid? What are we afraid of? Where is the ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’?
In a culture that thrives on outrage and changes definitions that fly in the face of truth, what are we to do? I suggest three things.
First, put your fear in check. It’s not unusual to be afraid of things that are going on in our world. More than once in the last few months I’ve pondered what it could mean if world tensions continue to escalate. We’re human, and even the best of us can be grabbed by fear once in a while. But we must remember that at the base of all fear is a lack of trust and faith in Jesus and His plans that are being worked out in our world and within us. Honestly, I’d likely do it differently from my perspective; but I’m not in charge—He is. Matthew 6:33 comes to mind, as Jesus says, “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When I am gripped by fear, which happens, I must remind myself that my trust is in the Lord; I must cast my cares on the Lord who will sustain me and never let me be shaken (Psalm 55:22). If this crazy world has you paralyzed by fear, turn off the TV, lessen your time on social media and news feeds, and spend some time with Jesus. He will never let you be shaken.
Second, get a handle on what is really happening. Remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Instead of spending our time seeing what’s happening to our world as an earthly fight between good and evil (which in some ways, it is), we need to remember that our present reality is but a symptom of a great war raging beyond us that we can’t truly comprehend. But, if we remember that this is spiritual before it is temporal, we can look at the people with whom we disagree differently—as people who are often driven by fear and looking for answers in the wrong places without hope. These are people for whom Christ died, who are lost and wandering, and holding onto definitions of truth not grounded in anything eternal. What’s really happening is that a war in heavenly places is conscripting lost and wandering people to join a losing team with no hope. We should be able to step into that reality with a heart of loving care and empathy for such people (without compromising Truth) instead of taking vile offense against people whose instability and hurt drives them to fear and to hurt others.
We need to remember that our present reality is but a symptom of a great war raging beyond us that we can’t truly comprehend.
Finally, we must act like we say we act—in perfect peace. It’s often only in the face of chaos that others will see Jesus in us…unless they don’t. When everything of earthly value fades away, our trust in Christ for our very breath prevails…unless it doesn’t. The peace of Christ in our lives is a condition of the heart, impervious to the external impacts of our world and its ups and downs. His peace can prevail upon us in times of unrest and can grow as we overcome in times of pain and failure. When we access it, it’s like goosebumps on our arm or the hair standing up on the back of our neck—it’s supernatural, unexplainable, and brings us closer to the Father. When we choose not to access it, we become as those without hope and allow our own hurt and fear to, at the very least, make us useless and, at the very most, make us destructive.
You and I have to let go. We have to step out in faith. If it made sense, everyone would do it. In a culture that is defined by selective outrage and ordered by priorities that no longer reflect even basic truths grounded in Scripture, replace your fear with faith! Get a handle on what’s really happening by seeing wandering and unstable people as worthy of your love and care; and allow the peace that surpasses all understanding to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6). When we practice these things, circumstances are mere momentary afflictions, critics are seen through new eyes, and we look forward to a day coming when everything—everything—will be made new!