Life’s only constant may be change, but that doesn’t mean we like it or ever become fully accustomed to upheaval’s steady presence. Life’s blessed moments of peace are seemingly strung together with the cords of unrest.
We strive for calm and order in the midst of the discord that keeps coming in our personal lives and in the world at large. We pray for peace—as we should—because somewhere down deep we know that life should not be so sketchy. Why do we think that? Where did we get that notion? Such thinking doesn’t make sense considering the evidence we have to the contrary.The upheavals we face remind us that we are, indeed, needy creatures.It is assumed that faith is a crutch for those who cannot reconcile these disparate realities of our unmet expectations and life’s regular upheavals. I’ve found that faith doesn’t necessarily remove the threat or even soften the blows of unrest; instead, faith gives a framework by which I keep my balance even when turmoil rages all around.
In fact, faith in Christ is a guarantee of even more upheaval. Jesus was clear that we who follow Him were likely to be persecuted, called to lay down our lives, and encouraged to advance the Kingdom despite inconvenience and disruption. That’s why I so appreciate Steve Mockensturm’s feature, “Untuned.” It speaks to the disruptive nature of knowing Jesus:
Your self, your property, your sense of order, everything you have, everything you are, all changed by Christ coming into your temple and flipping over all your stuff.”
For the Christian, the upheavals we face in the world are compounded by the upheavals in our personal lives as we give everything over to our Lord. Keeping our spiritual wits about us in the midst of upheaval is no small task. The consolation we have is that the table-flipping Jesus does in our hearts clears out what doesn’t belong, making room for what will bring greater joy.
This may be why, over the centuries, that various groups of Christians have checked out of the world’s upheavals in order to focus on the inner changes of the Spirit. C. Daniel Motley takes us on a historical recap of this detachment and re-engagement within the Baptist camp in his article, “From Henry to Hip-Hop: Baptists and the Return to Culture.” He begins with the question: “How did a group that was happy to remain separate from secular influences come to engage them on both an intellectual and cultural front?” And then he details the shift we see today:
In the later part of the 20th century, younger Baptists caught Henry’s vision of a socially involved church and began to find creative ways to speak truth to power by opposing evil through social engagement. As the 21st century unfolds with racism, poverty, and environmental issues at the fore, Henry’s vision of a culturally aware church is more poignant (and prophetic) than ever.”
Speaking truth in power is something we need more of when upheavals come. To do so, we must be engaged and present in society and in the lives of people who need a steady hand in turmoil. We are all in need of such support and encouragement. The upheavals we face remind us that we are, indeed, needy creatures. Things are not as they should be or as we would like them to be. But one day, all will be made new. Until then, we ride the waves of change, both inside and out, trusting Jesus to keep our feet from slipping.