Question #1: If God is sovereign, why is the world in upheaval?
It is a question that has been asked in one form or another since the beginning of time. All throughout scripture we uncover people in desperate, dark, and confusing situations, often crying out to God for answers. There are many examples of this raw honesty modeled for us in books like the Psalms, Habakkuk, and Job. Even in the New Testament we see glimpses of people serving the Lord obediently, but yet suffering and dealing with hardship. Paul wrote some of his letters from a prison cell and amidst less than ideal circumstances. Stephen (in the book of Acts) endured psychological and physical torture, but he settled to stand firm and trust in God’s sovereignty, remaining obedient.
55 Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 He said, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 They yelled at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. 58 They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And after saying this, he fell asleep. -Acts 7:55-60
This excerpt from the book of Habakkuk is one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. After Habakkuk has wrestled and conversed back and forth with God, asking all of the hard “why’s“, he settles to still rejoice in the Lord.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though the flocks disappear from the pen
and there are no herds in the stalls,
18 yet I will celebrate in the Lord;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
19 The Lord my Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!
That’s the key: It’s okay to question and wrestle and be honest with God about the pain and uncertainty. Where will it lead, though? Will it lead you to doubt Him? Or will it lead you to find even greater peace and fulfillment in Him as you nail a stake in the ground and plant your feet firmly in His promises, despite the circumstances around?
Question #2: Is it okay to have differences of opinion as believers in Christ?
Another issue swirling around right now is division. This isn’t new either. In fact, Jesus said that His message would cause division with the world:
“Do you think that I came here to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” -Luke 12:51
Although we know that we may endure persecution and ridicule for preaching the message of Christ to a lost world, we cannot afford to have division in the body of Christ. Jesus said a prayer in John chapter 17 for us to be one in the body of Christ. What was his reason for this unity? So that the lost world would believe in Him.
20 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.”-John 17:20-21
There are many bandwagons people are jumping on right now- politically, socially, and personally. There are lines being drawn in the sand, megaphones being shouted into, and information of all kinds being hurled around like a violent storm.
People are scared. People are confused. And people are hungry and searching daily for truth surrounding the current state of our world.
Should believers in Christ seek to uncover truth and dispose of twisted lies? Always.
Should believers in Christ engage in political and social discussion and use their platforms to share information? Absolutely.
But never at the expense of swallowing up the message of the gospel whole.
What is most important in our current time? Uncovering a conspiracy? Eating inside your favorite restaurant and ditching the masks? Yelling from the rooftops about political opinions, without counting the stain it may inflict on the message of the gospel?
We are all hurting in different ways. We all miss normality. Some of us are mourning the loss of loved ones, navigating sickness, or still missing out on “normal” events. Many of us are petrified of the current political climate. The truth is, though, many of us are misunderstanding and confusing the goal as believers right now. We are trying desperately to participate in righteous, justice-fueled discourse, but at times it is coming off as selfish, prideful, argumentative quarreling. It is okay to have differences in opinion from your brothers and sisters in Christ, but we must remain united and uniform on what matters most.
Let’s talk about Jesus for a second. He certainly flipped societal expectations in His time period completely upside-down. He did the unexpected. He healed many, he loved many, and he taught all sorts of new concepts. He was right at the center of politics. He was the subject and the cure for constant differences of opinion. Politics surrounded the story of Jesus. His life ended with a political execution. Jesus submerged himself right in the midst of the hard conversations. He was zealous and passionate in all of the right ways, fueling Him to share redemption with all He encountered.
Here is what Jesus didn’t do: Fight for SELF.
He didn’t stand on a platform and speak about “His rights”. Did he care about justice and the right treatment of others? Yes. This is seen all throughout the gospel narrative as he cares for the cast-out, the sick, and the oppressed. Right now more than ever we need to be bold, but we need to make sure our boldness is channeled in the correct way.
Are your everyday conversations and interactions furthering the message of the gospel or distracting from it? How about your social media feed? Sure, there are tons of below-the-surface issues going on that need our attention during this time. The most important issue at hand, though, is still the same: spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.
In the middle of the chaos, confusion, conspiracies, political and social disagreements- the answer and the cure remains unchanging. Our hope in the gospel and rapid desire to share salvation with others should be spreading like wildfire even more than ever before.
Our response needs to be steadfast because He is steadfast. Christ is sure, secure, unwavering, unshakable, and never moving.
Our response is Micah 7:7-8
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
We will look to the Lord and wait on Him always. We will have confidence that He will hear us and we will have faith that the enemy will not prevail. We know that when we feel defeated, through Christ we will rise. Darknesses encompasses every corner of the earth right now, but the Lord is our light in the midst.