Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Answer to Chaos is not Order... but Peace

One of the hardest (and perhaps the greatest) lesson that I have ever learned is how to properly view and react to chaos. Chaos takes many forms and is present in varying degrees all around us. There is, as we all know, financial chaos. There is also political chaos, meteorological chaos, and even the constant emotional chaos that we all face. There is the one that I fear most which is the chaos that comes with the habitual, unrelenting desire to sin. Simply put, chaos is unpredictability, randomness, and turmoil.

The human temptation is to oppose Chaos with her linguistic opposite: Order. Is something chaotic? Establish order. Put it back in its place. Exercise control and make the chaos behave. But is that always the right answer? Does it even work? No. The problem is that order may be the opposite of chaos, but rarely is control ever the solution to combat chaos effectively. Control has its own set of problems. Executed improperly (which is most of the time) it can cause as much damage if not more than the chaos it was intended to fix. Especially in the spiritual life that Christ calls us to, order for order's sake is as bad as the chaos that rages in our mortal flesh.

So what is the answer to the chaos that rages and haunts us? What ends the reign of this turmoil?

Peace. The true solution to chaos is peace. That is all any measure of order is trying to achieve in the first place, right? To turn the chaos into peace?

So when your life is filled with turmoil. When your soul is ravaged by the chaos of sin, the temptation is to establish control and clamp down on the chaos by force. Make it behave. The same thing is true with emotional chaos. We want to get control of our lives and our feelings. We want to make all of this mess behave. We think that is what God wants, but we are wrong. He does not want "good little Christians". He wants repentant sinners who cling to Christ by faith alone.

We seek order when all we need is peace. How about the chaos of our rebellion and sin? We want to force it to stop and behave as if it was something that we could actually achieve on our own. This is not the solution.

The answer is peace. There is peace which is found in Jesus Christ. As the tumult rages, the face of Christ bears the image of a merciful God who loves you. This is the same God who brought form to all creation, calmed the stormy Sea of Galalle, and will one day establish His perfect kingdom of holiness and peace that passes all human understanding. Amid the raging problems and transgressions of the day, the God of peace offers genuine comfort and renewal.

Know that the chaos here is temporary. It is the final death throw of a world that has been corrupted and mangled by Adam’s sin. It will pass away and God will put things right again. He will reestablish the peace that was His good and ordered creation.

Until that time, control can actually be your enemy. Of course we should resist sin, but when the battle against our sinful flesh becomes about controlling ourselves instead of repentance and faith, we have missed the boat completely and peace will never be found. There is no peace to be found in the quality and constancy of your works. They will fail and the chaos will return. You cannot win.

So the answer is not impose order, but to seek peace. We must let go of our control and our precious order. We must stop overanalyzing the past and the future and address the serious task at present. We must take our inadequacy that fails to deal with the chaos that afflicts us and place it at the foot of the cross where it belongs. When control is relinquished and a desperate appeal for peace is made, the tranquil pouring out of forgiveness flows from Our Lord’s tender mercy and cleanses all ills. We rest in the stillness of the knowledge that there lies for us a holy and eternal city that has no knowledge of chaos and sin. By the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, we are secured in the knowledge that God will calm all fears, remove all doubts, and heal all defects. These things will be put away and Prince of Peace shall reign eternal. We do not achieve victory over chaos with our control, but with the peace that comes from the crucified and risen Christ.

Order and discipline does not force this peace... it is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Once peace is secured, faith begins to grow and bloom. From this peace, true order can be established in the form of Christian discipline... an order born from faith and peace rather than desperation and chaos.

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