I know that might seem like a silly question, perhaps even a little hurtful. Look at the past four months! Of course we’re disturbed! Our normal rhythms have been disrupted. Some of us don’t know what to do without live sports on ESPN. Some of you have developed a new appreciation for NASCAR because it’s the only option on Sunday afternoons. Yes, we’re disturbed.
Some of our body have faced real disturbance and disruption beyond just the loss of our favorite viewing options. Jobs have been lost. Family members have been afflicted with the dreaded COVID-19 and some have even died due to this awful virus. Yes, we’re disturbed.
Disturbance and disruption go against some our chief values of comfort and security. I don’t like being disturbed. I don’t like living in upheaval. I don’t like feeling as if the world has been turned upside down. I don’t think most of us are lovers of disturbance. This morning, I came across this little nugget of wisdom from the life of one who has gone before us. Catherine Booth, the wife of William Booth and co-founder of the Salvation Army, is attributed with this quote: “To better the future we must disturb the present.”
To better the future, we must disturb the present. To say that this resonated deeply with me is a bit of an understatement. What I see in Scripture says this sentiment is true. To get to the better future of the promised land, the Israelites had to have their “present” in Egypt disturbed by an extended journey in the desert. When the people of Israel were longing for the kingdom to be restored, Jesus showed up and disturbed a lot of devout Jews because His kingdom didn’t match their expectations, but He offered a better kingdom than what they were expecting. To usher in a better future by defeating sin and death, Jesus allowed himself to be disturbed by the cross.
Did you ever think about how disturbing Jesus was in his own culture? One of the most vivid examples of this is found in Mark 11:15-17 where Jesus clears the temple courts. Flipping over tables and driving people away is kind of disturbing. Jesus quotes two Old Testament passages while he disturbs those in the temple courts: Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. If you’ve never looked at Isaiah 56 or Jeremiah 7, both passages are worth your time — they are very revealing. Jesus was disrupting the exclusivity and nationalistic cult that temple Judaism had come to embrace as well as the sense of false spirituality: live however you want to live with little regard to God because if you faithfully come to the temple, you’ll be okay! If these don’t hit close to home, then perhaps you’re not paying attention. Jesus was both disturbed by their present and He was disturbing their present.
My sense is that He’s doing the same today. I don’t believe COVID-19 or the upheaval and unrest we’re experiencing across our land are God directed judgements; I think these things are the natural fruit of a fallen and broken world groaning for redemption (Romans 8:22). But, I do believe that Jesus is working in our times and circumstances to disturb our status quo and move us to a better future.
We don’t like being disturbed. During this disruption, our tendency is to cast blame. It’s Trump’s fault. It’s China’s fault. It’s the Democrat’s fault. It’s Governor Wolfe’s fault (Pennsylvania) or Governor DeWine’s fault (Ohio) or Governor Pritzker’s fault (Illinois). I don’t think blame necessarily helps us at a time like this. I get the frustration, I really do. We don’t like being disturbed. We don’t like being disrupted. We don’t like being forced out of our status quo. None of us like the loss of our status quo freedoms.
What is the Spirt of God saying and revealing in the middle of our disturbance? What if Jesus is at work in our day in a similar way to the way He overturned the tables in the temple? What if He’s trying to tell us that we’ve gotten off track, just like the Jews of His day were off track when they made His house of prayer a den of robbers?
What if we’ve got bigger dilemmas to answer than how to social distance in worship gatherings or how to provide masks and hand sanitizer in large quantities?
I guess I want to be disturbed for as long as it takes for us to hear the Lord clearly in this time. What about you?
CGGC eNews—Vol. 14, No. 28