Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Chaos of Holy Week and Hope of Easter

No,  I am not writing about how busy I am!   I am writing about how chaos plays a role in the story of Holy Week and Easter, with the hope that when your life seems chaotic you just might see God at work.

Kaos vs. Control

Control good?
During my childhood, the spy film parody Get Smart made fun of the cold war with the Soviet Union by describing a spy on spy battle between two international spy agencies KAOS and CONTROL.   The hero Maxwell Smart, agent 86, worked for CONTROL; his enemies such as the recurring character Siegfried, worked for KAOS.   The default assumption that control is good and chaos is bad, underlies how the characters are divided up into good guys and bad guys.  This should make sense, if you asked a person on the street their true feelings, control would be seen positively and chaos negatively by most people (there is always a minority of chaos lovers out there).

Chaos bad? 
One of my underlying assumptions about culture is that often the deepest issues of the human condition are not actually discussed in the places where they are intended to be discussed, but happen in places hidden in plain sight.  A satire like Get Smart can bring to light a deep issue in a way that we can laugh about it, and perhaps think about it in a deeper way later.

The battle between chaos and control happens in every human heart.  Too much chaos- life is stressful and dangerous.  Too much control- life is stifled and growth is impossible.  Our fear for survival may lead us with a preference for control,  but when things become too predictable life is robbed of any sweetness and joy.

Chaos vs. Control on the Road to the Cross 

Sometimes we confuse control with peace with disastrous results.   Too much need for control can lead us down unhealthy paths.  It can hurt those we are called to care for (like our kids).  It can rob all the joy from life.  Most of all, it reveals a complete lack of trust in God.

The gospel accounts show us that the fear of chaos leads Pontius Pilate to condemn Jesus to death unjustly and release a guilty man who actually caused real chaos that led to the death of innocents (Barabbas).  Fear of chaos led Jesus's enemies to conspire to have him betrayed in secret rather using legal means.   Judas' gut reaction to the unknown woman's chaotic act of anointing Jesus seems nudge Judas into betrayal of his master.  Pilate, Judas, and the leaders of the opposition to Jesus all want to do away him because he represents a potential chaos that brings change to the world they wanted to keep.  And they were right.

Jesus as Agent of Chaos 

The order of the world that Jesus came to change, was unjust and oppressive.   The Romans, Sadducees and Pharisees all had issues with being over controlling of others.  Jesus came to bring dignity and respect to those marginalized by the world.   He wanted every person to know they are God's child.  He died to set all free from sin and he created a whole bunch of chaos to get to the cross. I know many will upset by me describing Jesus as one who brought chaos but that is exactly how the Bible describes it.

On the road to Jerusalem Jesus eats and drinks with those he is not supposed to, touches and heals those who were ritually unclean. Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was certainly a chaotic affair,  then he heads straight to the temple and overturns all the tables of the money changers.  He then confounds Pharisee and Sadducee (liberals and conservatives) alike through his teaching.   He heals and forgives his enemies as they lead him to the cross, refuses to acknowledge the authority of Pilate to judge him, and questions God the Father.  When he dies the temple curtain is torn in two.   Matthew even talks of earthquakes and people coming back from the dead.

Why would the Savior of the world intentionally to cause so much disruption and chaos?

Chaos as the Stuff of New Creation 

My own personal faith story is that God used the chaos I was going through in my early twenties to bring me to a living faith in Jesus Christ.   The Holy Spirit called me from an old way leading to death to a new way leading to life.   I was open to listen because my life was a chaotic mess.   God used chaos to bring about something new and better.

This is how God has worked since the beginning of space and time.

Genesis 1 tells us that the earth was formless and void, which Biblical Scholars of the Hebrew Bible have been telling us for a long time was an idiom meaning a "chaotic mess".   God calls forth light and then uses the stuff of chaos to create the universe.   The meaning is simple,  chaos is a tool that God can use to bring new life.   Jesus used the chaos of holy week to make a new creation, which includes all people in a promise of salvation.   The chaos he created overthrew the tyranny of sin, death, and the devil.

If you are going through a chaotic time now, please know the promise of the resurrection in Jesus Christ.  God can use it to bring you to something new better.   God is not only stronger than chaos, God can use it to bring you to new life.   Please let me be clear,  I am in no way advocating one seek out chaos.  Real chaos happens on its own, and seeking it out doesn't sound healthy or faithful to me. However, if you are going through something really terrible now, please know that God can use even this to bring you life and hope.   God loves you so much he will use every tool at his disposal to bring you new life.    We need not be held in bondage to fear of an unpredictable future or the possibility of an unbearable present, because we have a God who can use all things to love us.

He is Risen!

Be blessed,
Pastor Knecht

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