Our culture is volatile. Just observe what often happens when a car accident occurs. In our present era of social media, it happens so easily for unintended or accidental incidents to “go viral.” Out come the cell phones. With social media, what might have been a simple local incident fifty years ago, can now incite a passionate global response. We were created by a passionate God to be passionate people. Jesus definitely was. We often refer to His life, death, and resurrection as “the Passion of Christ.”
What happens when our passions are not understood and they incite a wrong response?
I am reminded how often I have almost hit the car in front of me because it suddenly stopped, only for me to eventually realize there was something was in the road I couldn’t originally see. Perhaps it was an animal running across the road or debris that was in the way. The only thing I could see was my coffee cup or purse go flying in my car as I came to an abrupt stop. And I confess… my verbal responses haven’t always been pleasant ones! Similarly, social and political issues most often happen when we aren’t present. And our screens usually only show one perspective and not the whole picture. Yet, because of our human passion, we respond with an instant reaction that can ignite others’ views like a wildfire causing unrest and destruction.
Passionate responses cause disruptions.
In Luke 12:49, Jesus revealed His human nature and the burden of living in our broken world. He was both fully God and fully human and He was passionate to save us. He knew He would be “baptized” in suffering and wished He could just get on with it – be “kindled.” Yet God’s passion for us wouldn’t let Him until all that needed to be fulfilled in prophecy was done. It required Jesus to wait and walk the walk and talk the talk and trust in God’s perfect timing. And, I might add, it wasn’t easy. It required that He bring truth, and the truth is volatile. His passion would bring division. The truth of Jesus brought would pit one against the other – families would be divided because of their inability to see clearly who He was and God’s plan.
Our humanness limits our sight.
Jesus continually spoke clearly but He had to also use stories and ask questions that brought clarity and understanding because the hard truth stopped people. His mission was to enlighten us on God’s plan for our redemption. God saw what had to be done from the inciting incident of sin in the Garden. He knew how to solve the problem because He’s God. Yet, from our blind perspective, we only saw the punishment and not God’s redemptive plan for us. Our “car” (freedom) has been forced to stop and our personal stuff is flying. For those who have allowed themselves to believe in the truth of Jesus and whose eyes have been opened, we see differently.
We don’t have to know “the why” because God sees the why.
Instead of confusion and fear when challenges happen, we’re able to relax in the uncertainty and it’s unnatural. We weren’t at the inciting incident of sin in the Garden of Eden, but we don’t have to be. The Word of God is enough to trust that He’s got us. He sees us when we find ourselves suddenly stopped in our career or in life.
But we must choose.
We can become confused and frustrated when life’s disruptions happen, or choose the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The difference? Confident rest. There’s a clarity and assurance that permeates our being, knowing that in the unknown and “the wait,” God’s perfect will is ideal, and His vision for us is best when we let Him control our gas petals.
In Luke 12:57-59, Jesus challenged those who were listening to pay attention to the time they were living in. It was the most significant time that had ever happened on Earth. He had come to save us. Today, we even document time as before Christ (BC) and after Christ’s death (AD) because His life, death, and resurrection stopped the clock and then restarted it.
The times we’re living in seem to change at light speed with unintended incidents – stops that we never could have anticipated, but still manage to disrupt our lives. Yet, God never changes. His plans will be accomplished even if they unfortunately divide families and cause disruptive “fires.” Jesus knew He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus was confident in what He had been called to do on Earth by His Father. He willingly and passionately completed His mission, even if it incited division and disruption.
Are you willing to trust God’s plan and perspective for your life even if causes a fire?
“While we were still under arrest, my father, out of love for me, was trying to persuade me and shake my resolution. ‘Father,’ said I, ‘do you see this vase here, for example, or waterpot or whatever?’
‘Yes, I do,’ said he.
And I told him: ‘Could it be called by any other name than what it is?’
And he said: ‘No.’
‘Well, so too I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.’
At this, my father was so angered by the word ‘Christian’ that he moved towards me as though he would pluck my eyes out. But he left it at that and departed, vanquished along with his diabolical arguments.”
– Account from a prison diary of Perpetua and Felicitas martyred in Carthage in 202/203 B.C.
Perpetua, along with her infant son and maid, friend and fellow believer, Felicitas, were unmercifully starved and brutally tortured. She was given one last chance to recant her faith before being thrown into the Roman gladiator arena. Wild animals were released into the arena to kill the prisoners, but when the animals were unsuccessful in their task, the huge crowd became bored and chanted for blood. Prompted by the mob, the gladiators entered the arena with their swords drawn. As they approached, Perpetua guided a gladiator’s sword to her throat in a final act of willingness to die for her faith in Jesus.
Reading Perpetua and Felicitas’ story of martyrdom reminds us that we’re called to a high purpose and one that will include sacrifice, suffering, and even perhaps death. We are called to embody the life of a follower of Jesus, not just embrace Christianity in name only. As world and cultural views change, “The Truth” –God’s presence and His Word– aggravates those who resist it, and evil grows more robust. I am convinced we will see and experience more suffering and martyrdom. It’s predicted in the Bible. The godless will continue to be relentless and attempt to fast-track their beliefs into every aspect of our lives to increasing degrees. Choosing The Truth and His truths will become steadily more difficult.
This is not “breaking news.”
Just as air slowly leaks out of a tire due to a small nail puncture and is initially undetected by the human eye, so too are we seeing the deflation of God’s truths on the earth and in the lives of people. Our world is losing the Breath of Life. Evil is increasing and is creating an irreparable path of destruction. It’s not difficult to see the enormous effects of our culture’s brokenness and sinful choices.
Are you ready for what’s coming? Is God dead?
In 1882, well-known atheist Friedrich Nietzsche cynically wrote The Parable of the Madman, in which the Madman makes a profound statement: “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him – you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this?”
It’s still a relevant question today. How did we get so off-course and deceived from The Truth? It’s one thing to disagree with a truth and another to disagree that there is A Truth. We know the very existence of planet earth depends on the sun’s gravitational pull (it’s a proven scientific truth). If we lose the sun’s connection, the planet will instantly go spinning out of control ending all life on earth. Our connection to the sun is foundational and nonnegotiable.
When we lose the foundational truth of who God is in our life, we too spin out of control.
That is precisely what is happening in our culture today. Award-winning author Eric Metaxas interviewed documentary filmmaker Matt Walsh on his recent feature film, What is a Woman?. They discussed the incredible inability of those pushing for a gender-neutral world to define one simple term: Woman. Those who were supposed to know –scholars, doctors, and even other women– could not define who or what a woman was. Matt Walsh (very comically, I might add) was able to show that those pushing for this agenda had to deny the foundational scriptural truth that God created us “male and female.” Genesis 1:27
There is no confusion or gender dysphoria in God’s eyes. When you accept foundational Biblical truths, you are anchored (like the earth to the sun) in God’s unchanging gravity. When you’re not fastened to truth, you are left spinning out of control, lost in complete confusion. And you in turn cause irreversible damage to others, as Abigail Shrier writes about in her book of the same name. Perpetua and Felicitas stood in the gladiator arena, anchored to truth despite the atrocities happening around them and to them. They refused to recant the one thing they knew to be true. In the same way, our grounding foundational truths are and will always be in God and His son, Jesus.
Will you stand on The Truth, or will you deny Him?