Order & Chaos

Men set things right

Scene

There’s a fight scene in the movie, Tron: Legacy (2010) that I really like.  Daft Punk provides the music.

The part I enjoy most is when Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the maker and creator of the movie’s digital environment, enters the room.  In the middle of the fight, the camera cuts to a tight shot of the floor, onto which a person steps and places their hand, stopping everything.

The lights go out, the music dies and the chaos of the scene stops.  Then, the camera reveals the identity of the arriving character.

To a revitalized beat rises a man dressed in glowing robe; the maker and creator, without whom nothing could have come to be.  The entire room feels the impact of his presence and authority.  His power is effectual; his strength undeniable.

The religious parallel is obvious.

Order

Frankly, I get chills thinking about it, not because the cinematography is awesome, though it is, but because of what that scene provides as an illustration for.  That is, the return of our Creator and his ability to immediately settle the storms of this world.

Christ brings order to chaos.

I try to imagine what the day when Christ returns might be like, knowing full well that my mind likely does not possess the ability.   I envision his return to this world creating a boom that would reverberate through every bone of my body; in every molecule and mountain; in every mind, heart and soul in such a way that would move us in a way as we had never been moved before.  For as meek and modest as was his first arrival to us, so shall his might be when he comes again to judge the living and the dead.

I imagine that if it were possible to feel an impact not merely in our bodies but in our souls, the day Christ lays his hand to the earth and silences all things, that we might hear the slow crescendo of praise emerging from rocks and trees, as every knee bows and evil is not merely ended, but undone–that will be the day, indeed.

Of course, this creates within me both a sense of awe and fear.  On one hand, how wonderful it will be for the Creator to return!  And yet in the same moment, wretched man that I am, who am I to think that I will maintain any posture other than sprawled out upon my face pleading for mercy when that day comes?

But this of course is what makes Christ the Christ.  He is the anchor.  He is the cornerstone.  He is the firm foundation upon which homes and lives ought to be built, lest they crumble and be swept away.

In the same way, this seems to be what Christians are called to be, and I would say men most of all.  Anchors; rocks; unwavering lampposts that remain firm in their position and helpful to the wandering passersby, of which there are many.  This is what it means to be in the likeness of Christ.  This is what it means to be a man.

Dad

It should be a pleasant thing when Dad comes home.  A sigh of relief ought to be breathed when a man who knows his wife, cares for his children and protects his home returns from his time away.  This seems rarely the case, though.

More often, dads–if they’re even present–come home to rolled eyes and untameable chaos.  Respect is a joke because kids rarely understand the need for their father’s protection.  Wives are more often annoyed by their husbands than they are satisfied, and while men once returned from long voyages in which risk and adventure provided for stories to tell, now we return from offices and traffic with meeting notes and policy updates.

Tragedy.

Then of course may be the worst case scenario; the father who returns home and brings not order but chaos himself, because he lives in chaos.  Dad’s drunk or angry or both and his return brings not relief but dismay.  The respect he demands depends not on love but fear, and his unharnessed brokenness breaks those he loves.

To men and myself

Whether father, son, boyfriend, husband, employer or employee, you are a man and as such have the opportunity and perhaps the responsibility to provide as the anchor in your environment.  This is not to say that a woman cannot do the same.  Many women provide calmness within storms, and there is certainly something very comforting about a woman’s touch, be it upon her child or her lover.

That said, there seems to be something sacred about safe male authority, of which Western culture knows very few examples of anymore.  Despite the popularity of feminism and egalitarianism, I no less firmly believe that women by and large crave safe male authority.  Good fathers, steadfast husbands and solid men are all too few, and if I’m honest with you, I’d have to admit that I’m not nearly the example I’d like to be, or that my daughter needs me to be.

Men also require safe men.  Boys need men to become men instead of aged boys, and broken men need slightly less broken men to help them re-anchor.  Every man and woman needs Christ, whether we know it or not, and all of us long for him whether we realize him to be the object of our truest desires or not.

Exhortation

I encourage you, as I hope you will encourage me, to take a deep breath and settle into the unwavering truth of Christ.  If you are in chaos–if the wind is blowing hard and the sea is rocking violently, remember.  Please remember who you are, in whom you are, and who it is that lives in and through you.  And if you do not know, then seek the truth and come to know.  Read Romans.  Read Mark.  Read some stuff at Desiring God.

If you are not in chaos, maybe you should seek it out.  The world is not short on turmoil, and if you are grounded in Christ it may be time to both test your foundation and help those adrift by entering into uncertain waters.  Christ commissioned his men not to be comfortable, but to be purposeful.

Because he is the order.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  He is the Creator of all things, seen and unseen, and his hand upon our souls can bring peace everlasting.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – God (John 14:27, ESV)

If You’re Not Making Disciples Locally, Why Would You Globally?

“Aviation does not create transformation.”
David Platt

 

I just finished watching David Platt’s Q&A session via Twitter (available here) about the direction of the International Mission Board (IMB), in which he noted that if you’re not making disciples where you already live, work and recreate, it’s not likely that you’ll begin making disciples once you arrive somewhere overseas.

This needs to be said, maybe to others, but certainly to me.  I have a newly developed passion for the Great Commission, largely because of what I hear Jesus Christ saying through the intense teachings & writings of David Platt, but I’m conflicted because I feel like there’s an epic story waiting to be written, if only I could break away from my mediocre life.

And while there might be some truth to that, the unfortunate way in which I typically express that frustration is toward my wife.  I sometimes, unintentionally, find myself thinking of our relationship as an obstacle to my ability to learn new languages, boldly travel to dangerous places, and powerfully share the gospel where few others would dare.  Added to our relationship, now we also have a newborn daughter whose smile I could not love more and whose laugh absolutely intoxicates me.

The simple truth is this:  I use my family, and especially my marriage, as an excuse not to make disciples, either within my family or outside of our home.  I complain about having to juggle so many responsibilities when I’m really not responsible for much more than my family.  I’m regularly stressed out, but not because I have much to be stressed about.  I’m just high-strung.  And I probably wouldn’t be making a ton of disciples in the Middle East if I were there right now, because I’d probably find other excuses to get by on.

To be clear, I do not believe that discipleship ought be confined to my family.  They are, to me, certainly of higher priority than the world, but my ability to influence others for the the sake of Christ should not be confined to my home.   I can affect my neighbors, my local church, guys at the gym, and so on.  I can figure out a way to engage with those younger guys at Sonic that I chose to ignore earlier tonight (they just seemed annoying), and I can operate as one who was sent here, rather than as one who is restrained here.

Lord:
I’m sorry I’ve complained so much.  Please remind me that I am sent here.  That I am on mission, within my family, with the people I interact with at work, and on my “off” days.  Please help me see through my own BS, that I might know the satisfaction available to me in allowing your desires to be my desires.

It is done.

They May Never Ask Where the Hope Comes From

I once worked with an older woman who always came to work smiling. She was always cheerful, almost to the point of annoying, but thankfully just shy.

I personally appreciated her attitude, mostly because I was a manager and I felt a level of responsible for the morale of our work environment.  That said, it never occurred to me that I might ask her why she was the way she was, or what motivated her joyful disposition.  I admired that aspect of her, but that’s it.  At best, I may have envied her, but that’s where it ended.

Maybe that says more about me than I’d like it to, but even now, I’m pretty content not knowing why she was as she was.  I suppose I assume now, as I did then, that she was a Christian.  But she may as well have been Mormon or into stones and healing energies or anything else.  Maybe her attitude was a byproduct of a great self-help book.  Maybe that’s how her mom was.  Maybe that’s how her mom was not.  Whatever the case, I never asked, and I’ll probably never seek her out in order to ask.

And here’s the thing:  I don’t think you would, either.

Hoping for an ask

1 Peter 3:15 encourages Christian disciples to “always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  And so we should.  But having an answer prepared doesn’t mean it ought only be offered upon request.  Jesus often took the initiative.

Consider:  If you are a Christian, and you sincerely believe that we have been saved from an eternal abyss that we deserve, and have instead been provided a means to eternal glory in community with the Creator of the universe, His angels and all the rest, how does it make any sense that we would only share this with those who are lucky enough to ask why we smile so much?

I realize no one wants to be the infamous “bible thumper” who scares more passersby away from the gospel than leads to it, but there’s got to be other ways to initiate the conversation.  Because while pouring soup and moving furniture is thoughtful, these things don’t set anyone free from eternal separation from God.  Truth sets us free.  Christ sets us free.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:14-15)

For Christ’s sake–for their sake, preach!