Does Status Quo Exist?
Hurricanes. Fires. Earthquakes. Famines. Disease. War. Race Riots. Sexual Harassment. Poverty. Violence. Divided Politics. Corruption. School Shootings.
The list of crises continues day after day.
Anxiety is up….along with a host of other disorders which significantly disrupt daily life and sleep.
I hear vast numbers of people asking over and over, “When Is it ever going to change? Will it ever change? What does it take for change to happen?” In other words, when can we get back to status quo?
I believe we are asking the wrong question. Change is already here. It’s time to adapt and contextualize to our new surroundings. Life and faith today are much like moving to a foreign country; where the language and practices are vastly different than what we currently know.
Questions I’ve been pondering include:
- What’s happening in this specific moment of history?
- What part do I have to play in it?
- What might God be telling us through all the world events taking place with ever increasing intensity?
Some signs I’ve been watching show me that we are in the middle of a vast transition moving from the familiar church age and into the unfamiliar kingdom age.
I believe we began the transition into the kingdom age in the early 1990’s. Postmodernism began to question established cultural and scriptural truths. The internet age emerged, changing our daily practices in dramatic ways. I think most of us can remember the year we bought our first personal computer and how much it cost us. We purchased a Dell desktop computer; it took my husband’s whole yearly bonus to buy it.
Remember the Steve Jobs introduction of the iPhone? Who knew one phone could radically change how we get information, making watches, cameras, maps and letters almost irrelevant and obsolete.
At approximately the same time as personal computers and the internet exploded, 9/11 happened. This changed the landscape not just of the United States, but also the world, as our attention was continually drawn to little known countries in the Middle East overnight. Sadly, this region has been embroiled in war ever since.
Suddenly the world went from being understood as seven continents with nationalist loyalties to becoming globally connected. It became impossible, unless we live the life of a hermit without technology, to go through a day without hearing of a crisis somewhere in the world. Our anxiety skyrocketed as we were fed a daily stream of bad news.
In the Christian world, things began to change as well. Suddenly, it was possible to listen to more than our own pastors voices and podcasts became all the rage. Churches began to develop multi-sites as technology made it possible. New voices began to appear through blogging and videos. Churches began to compete for attention, as they watched people become consumers taking their kids to one youth group, attending the Sunday service at another, and attending Celebrate Recovery or Griefshare or Pilates (or fill in the blank) at yet another. Loyalty was down and consumerism was up!
Dramatic change continued culturally and spiritually through the 90’s and 2000’s and 2010’s, but in the past few months, some events took place that made it even clearer that the kingdom age is upon us. As kids celebrated Halloween, many Christians celebrated the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther signing the 95 thesis and pounding it to the door of the Catholic Church. Just in the past few weeks, we mourned the death of 99 year old Billy Graham who defined the evangelical lifestyle by calling us to salvation in Jesus Christ and commitment to knowing his Word and life in community of God’s church.
Beyond these two big Christian events, the US took a pounding in creation. Fires broke out in the Northwest and Montana. In the space of a few short weeks, six ferocious hurricanes hit Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, Cuba and of course, Puerto Rico which is far from recovered. After we caught our breath from these weather challenges, fire broke out in the middle of the night in Santa Rosa, California, (the town we had just moved from months before), burning down the neighborhood we thought we were going to live in within a couple of hours, and up to 22 fires continued to burn for 11 days. Just a few weeks later, fires ravaged Southern California. It seemed to never stop.
So, our question should be:
What might God be saying to us through all this?
Our challenge is to not be swallowed up by the “never ending bad news” leading us into fear, depression and anxiety. Instead, we have an open invitation to come to the throne of grace where we can find grace and receive mercy to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). I love how the Passion Translation states it:
“ So now you are invited to come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace urgently needed to strengthen us in our time of weakness, (confusion, anxiety, disequilibrium...fill in the blank).”
In the place of God’s presence and comfort, we can take the risk to ask the hard questions: “What is really going on? God, are you present in the midst of all this upheaval? Will you show me the way through it?”
I hear Jesus whispering his answer to our searching:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else; live the way I teach you, and everything you need will be provided.” Matthew 6:33
Seek the Kingdom of God....hmmm, isn’t this what we do when we live our lives centered on Christ? Isn’t this what my church is teaching me to do? What’s different than what I am currently doing?
I think those who had the privilege of living when Jesus began his ministry on earth experienced the same challenge. Jesus showed up and called them to a lifestyle different than they had been taught at synagogue, their families and through their feasts. Many of them began to ask the same question we are asking, “What do I need to do differently to seek your kingdom?”
I am starting a series entitled “Unfamiliar Life in the Kingdom", which will explore Jesus’ invitation to seek his kingdom in your present context. Life is different for each of us, but here’s the exciting thing I’ve learned about God’s Kingdom: it’s simple to implement and it brings profound impact.
It takes us out of the sense of our world careening out of control and leads us into a partnership with Jesus the King so we discover and live our vital role for this important time of history.
Does that sound good to you?
I invite you to take a step and subscribe to this blog so together we can dialogue about our thoughts and experiences, forming a friendship from wherever we find ourselves today, so we can confidently move beyond the familiar into the unfamiliar world of life in God’s Kingdom.