It’s Friday and it feels like last Monday. These weeks of pandemic and social unrest have taken a toll and many people are worried about our future. It becomes hard to discern the voice of God when we are troubled. Different voices weave different narratives. How are we to make sense of it all? How do we know which human voices to give our allegiance?
Everyone needs a solid foundation upon which to stand. For some it is a political ideology, others a movement like climate justice, for some it is financial reward or a set of moral values. Most of these generally fail to rise to the occasion when families, nations, and cultures are divided or seem to be crumbling around us -- our political structures, cultural mores, religious norms, and family constructs. We remain worried because no matter how hard we try; we seem unable to persuade others of the truth we see. Even Jesus was ultimately unable to convince the religious and governing powers of the day to change their minds. They crucified him, but…
A few years ago, I read the last book Marcus Borg wrote before he died, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most. My take-away from this book is that while politics, religious belief and practice are very important, the most important, and guiding light for both, is a confident faith in God. If human fate is based on your or my “rightness” then it is a battle between us for power. That creates anxiety, stress, and conflict. Faith in God’s control, on the other hand, reduces the need for me to be right. The world is no longer dependent on my rightness or yours. That allows us to approach uncertainty with less anxiety. Because I believe God is the author of human history, our sustainer and savior, our differing understandings of how to live together, while important, are not the controlling factor in human destiny. God is!
Let me tell you how that works for me. What I believe and how I live is my worship. I’m living first for God. Even if the church, the nation, the culture is going in a direction I feel is unhealthy, I refuse give up on the church, our nation, or the world, even if I suffer personally, financially, or vocationally because my views are different from the mainstream. I consider myself a socially responsible investor – even if it doesn’t give me the returns I could get from the military industrial complex. I try to live sustainably even though I give up some personal comforts available to me living out this value. My ideas about God are unpopular in conservative circles and have cost me friendships I would have enjoyed. But here is the thing – I may be right or wrong, still, my confidence is not in my rightness or yours – it is in God and God’s love for the world.
While living faithfully a life of worship, I have confidence I’m contributing to what God is doing in human history. And in what God is doing through you, even if we share different points of view. We may disagree vigorously, yet through the dialogue of people with different points of view, God has sustained human history through many “dangers, toils, and snares.” Like a pendulum, human societies swing toward the extremes, often with very harmful consequences, but God has sustained life and returned us to the middle lane.
So, if you are feeling too much anxiety from the pandemic or social unrest, the loss of a loved one, or fear for you own health, take a deep breath, and live into the truth of God’s sovereignty. Then, you can live with less worry and make more healthy choices as you live your part of what God is doing in the world.