By Mark A. Taylor
How shall we react in times that seem to become more unsettled every week?
In a society besieged by gun violence, in a culture increasingly fragmented by political division, in a world where peace seems impossible and conflict far away breeds pain and destruction close to home, what should be the Christian’s outlook?
When the media celebrates and the government certifies rights we believe God forbids, and when Christian leaders struggle to find middle ground between the extremes of permissiveness and legalism, where will we take our stand?
Some choose to resist. Although their number seems to be diminishing, some Christians still frame current events in terms of winning and losing: “We’ve achieved another victory in the battle against abortion.” “Aha, here’s a judge who won’t agree with the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling.”
Some choose to retreat. As David Skeel reported in The Wall Street Journal, conservative columnist Rod Dreher is promoting “the Benedict Option, a call . . . for Christians to stage a ‘strategic retreat’ from the culture.” Hunker down, isolate, disengage. Withdraw from a hostile world to protect the values we fear are slipping away from us.
A better alternative, it seems to me, is to rest. Rest in the knowledge that God is still at work, God’s will eventually always prevails, and God wants the best for us and our children, even when we seem powerless to know what that is or how to make it happen.
Writing in our July “Thought Leaders” section, Jeff Walling recommends rereading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, because Lewis’s “thoughts and his approach are a model for how we might speak into the chaos that surrounds us.” The chaos that surrounds us—Walling’s words are well-chosen.
Lewis’s response to the troubled world of his time, says Walling, “was neither a shallow ‘it’ll be all right in the end’ nor a bitter diatribe against the enemy.”
We need not deny the chaos, but we dare not fear to face a world around us struggling to cope without the moorings found in Christ alone. The fact is that despite the politically correct conclusions we hear in public forums, many of our neighbors and friends wrestle with deep questions about meaning, purpose, and peace of mind. Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to introduce them to the only true source of hope.
Bob Russell blogged about worry a couple of weeks ago. “Worry is a sin because it calls God a liar,” he wrote. “God promises, ‘All things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8:28). Worry says, ‘I don’t think that’s true.’”
Bob might have quoted all of Romans 8, whose every paragraph contains antidotes to worry for Christians in troubled times. Some examples:
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (v. 10).
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (v. 18).
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. . . . The Spirit himself intercedes for us” (v. 26).
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31).
Any of those verses would be good to memorize as we calmly continue to live out our faith, even in a time that’s aptly called chaos.