Written shortly after the election of 2016, it seems this article may end up being relevant again with sustained urgency:
Virtually no pundits or prognosticators believed in a Donald Trump victory. And yet today, in mid-November of 2016, President-Elect Donald Trump not only won the election, shocked the political class and destabilized the mainstream media, he has also moved to calm tensions and recently met with President Obama to generally positive reviews. Disequilibrium is now the norm for the electorate and the political elite. Left and right continue to polarize and demonize the other “side”. Disequilibrium, even if temporary, is the shared lot of all.
Are we entering into a new era in American life or are going to see further polarization and demonization in accelerated fashion? In the 1970’s, Francis Schafer asked the question, “How Should We Then Live?”, in response to the challenges of that era. Now, some 4 decades later, many followers of Jesus Christ are grappling with how to respond to a world in transition and people in pain or uncertainty.
I am convinced that followers of Christ are faced with the single greatest opportunity of my lifetime. American society is filled with yet another election where the outcome is disappointing or frightening to almost 50% of the voting electorate, and exhilarating or encouraging to the remaining voters. However, regardless of where you are on the spectrum, this election season and election result has brought about disequilibrium for everyone. Street and campus demonstrations are matched with workplace, home, and church discussions that are challenging. Followers of Jesus are grappling with how to respond with certainty in uncertain times.
So far in this article, I have not referenced Scripture. But the time is right for me to ask, “How do we thrive in disequilibrium?” The answer is both clear and simple:
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus tells us to center our lives on the Reign of the King, to live in alignment with Him and His purposes. When we live in alignment with the King, our lives are safe, secure, and full of hope. Instead of singing, “don’t worry, be happy”, we sing, “Worthy is the Lamb, the Lamb who was slain”. We honor Jesus and place Him at the center of our lives and all heaven breaks loose! Centering on lives on Jesus affects not only how we live our lives, but how we engage in relationships and encounter the cultural waves of our present reality.
Scripture tells us in Ephesians 5 that our speech should be “seasoned with grace”. I often say that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. BUT, you can give him salt to make him thirsty! If we want to thrive in a world full of disequilibrium, we need to know that we are carrying around the presence, person, and purposes of Jesus in our every day lives in such a way that people become thirsty to know the One who brings life and hope. American religious life, despite the growth of mega-churches in the past 40 years, has seen a relatively consistent decline in church attendance and the rise of “NONES” in our society, those disclaiming any formal religious affiliation. For many in church leadership, this has led to confusion about how to reach and impact the community and culture in which we are called to live and serve.
Many of us in the Body of Christ have lost our way in the world. We no longer know how to share the love of Jesus in tangible ways. When we read in Matthew 5:12-16 that we are the “salt” and “light” of the world, it means little to us in tangible direction of how we lead our lives. My friend, Dr. Ed Silvoso, says we should PRAY-CONNECT-BLESS-SHARE. What Ed means is that before we ever share Christ with our neighbors or community, we should have prayed with them, connected with them, blessed them in some way, and then we can share with them on the basis of our loving relationship with them. I believe that Jesus centered witness is all the more critical in our time of disequilibrium; the Good News must be demonstrated in the presence, power, and purposes of Jesus.
We know that we should pray for those in leadership above us (1 Timothy 2:1ff), even if we do not share their political persuasion. For many American Christians, the idea of praying and interceding for a Democrat or Republican political leader is very difficult. I want us to imagine the Apostle Paul in the day he wrote it; he was actually urging prayer for Roman officials who were likely conspiring at the very moment of writing to bring about persecution and loss of liberty to those early followers of Jesus. Imagine praying for the Caesar who was going to order the conditions that would bring pain to your life!
I believe we are in a time of great cultural shifting here in America. But during this recent election, I felt certain that the Lord was speaking to me specifically about fear and cynicism. I felt like the Holy Spirit was impressing on me not to spend one day in fear—because I know that perfect love casts out fear (and perfect love is named Jesus!). I also felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me not to spend one day in cynicism, because I know the source of Hope (and his name is Jesus!). Today is the best day of our lives to know the Living and Risen King! Today is the best day in our lives to share the life and love of Jesus with whomever He places in your path. Let’s agree together that we are going to shift every atmosphere in which He places us. We can shift atmospheres to His glory by living with grace and kindness and demonstrating love and life in all we do.
Disequilibrium could be the worst condition you have ever faced. Or disequilibrium could be the greatest opportunity a follower of Jesus has ever experienced. I think our cultural disequilibrium is a set-up. It sets up the people of God to live and testify to His certainty and grace regardless of the context of our lives. God is good-better than we think. The time is now to help our unstable world see the deep and rich reservoir of love and grace and truth found only in Jesus. Let’s do this for His glory!