The children of God in America are experiencing the beginnings of a “double chaos”; a chaos of society and a chaos of the church.  This “two-fold chaos” will test our faith and shake our foundations.  The following are notes from the 16th meeting of the Berean Marketplace Leaders Forum, where the dialogue topic was “The Chaos of Country and Church (Part 2) – Response”.  Follow this link to the notes from Part 1.  And then…

Scripture

They shall be ashamed and also disgraced, all of them; they shall go in confusion together, who are makers of idols. Isaiah 45:16

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 1 Corinthians 14:33

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. James 3:16

Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:27-29

Review from Our First Meeting – Recognizing the Chaos

  1. Chaos is upon us… and more is an inevitable reality that we must face.
  2. The chaos of church and country have some surprising and revealing parallels:
    1. The chaos itself
    2. Lack of recognition by those in leadership
    3. Need for voices in the chaos (aka, prophets)
    4. Myth of Exceptionalism
    5. The lure of nostalgia – An optimistic view of history
    6. Growing gulf between the haves and the have-nots
    7. Discord and divisiveness
    8. Fault finding and finger pointing
    9. Ignorance of the surrounding culture – Leading to confusion, ineffectiveness and backlash
    10. The young are adapting sooner/quicker – But are they headed in the right direction?
    11. Society’s view of the marriage covenant and the church’s view of its covenants with God
    12. The potential relational outcome – How will the World treat a failing America? How has America treated its failing church?
  3. America was once considered the New Jerusalem. It appears to have become just another Roman Empire.
  4. A codependency has developed between American and the church here:
  • American Exceptionalism: The myth that, as God’s country, we would be an exception to all the empires of history – that America could not fail because God will not let it happen.
  • Subculturalism: Like so many times in the history of God’s people, the church has become dependent on the American systems (of the world?), and is no longer a counter-culture.

Book Review (continued)

In his book “After America – Narratives for the Next Global Age”, Paul Starobin discusses five potential world orders that will emerge from America’s decline and the resulting chaos:

  1. A Continued and Dark Chaos – instability in all segments of American (and World) society
  2. A Multi-polar World – a few countries or coalitions replacing the lone empire
  3. The Chinese Century – China replaces America as the new empire
  4. Dominate City-States – power and influence centralized in global city-states
  5. A Universal Civilization – utopian world order anchored in global government and finance systems, and extending to commerce, health care, education, media, etc.

The author was particularly enthusiastic about the Universal Civilization. He presented many evidences that we (Americans) had already moved in this direction. This revelation was the most shocking thing in the book for me. Here are a few examples:

  1. Law – there has been a shift in U.S. Supreme Court towards conformance to international precedents
  2. Business – companies founded in America are moving their headquarters to other countries (e.g., Halliburton’s move to Dubai to avoid U.S. regulation)
  3. Higher Education – the Harvard Business School now markets itself as an international institution (downplaying its national roots)
  4. Media – Scientific American Magazine is owned by a German Company and published in 16 languages
  5. Human Rights – The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 (America has not submitted its sovereignty to this body, but a growing number in authority would have us do so)
  6. Environment – Sierra Club, Green Peace and Al Gore are all American inventions
  7. Healthcare – Medical universities are now building clinics and hospitals around the globe

The author closed by saying that the chaos of the “After America” America will be “dark and stormy” or “happy”. The outcome is primarily dependent on our outlook and response. Will we look back with regret and nostalgia and try to get back what has been lost? Or, will we look forward with hope and purpose? This is another of the church and country parallels (perhaps the most important).

Conviction

In consideration of the New Jerusalem/Roman Empire discussion, it occurs to me that the church suffered under both the Roman Government and the Jewish Establishment. Are we willing to suffer to be set apart (i.e., sanctified)? Is suffering in our future regardless of our attempts to “fit in”?

Suffering (aka, tribulation, affliction, persecution, trial) was promised by Christ (John 16:33), taught by Christ as a blessing (Matthew 5:10) and identified by Paul as a condition of our inheritance:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:16-17

As the chaos around us increases, it is important for every follower of Christ to recognize that suffering is an important component of the normal Christian life. This will have a direct impact on our outlook and response. Walking in this truth, we will be liberated and empowered to see the chaos as opportunity to advance God’s kingdom as we glorify Him.

In fact, the coming days will be filled with opportunities for supernatural problem-solving. We will see Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:16 manifested all around us:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Closing Challenge

This reminds me of two mountain climbers, roped together. If one falls, the other will either save him, be dragged down with him, or cut the rope and be free of him. How does the church respond to an America that has lost its footing? What does it mean to overcome the world? Should we conquer, go back, or come out? Where do we respond? Can we be in the systems of the world and not be “of the world”? Most importantly, how do we respond to the chaos in a way that glorifies our Father in Heaven?