No greater crisis in all human experience exists than this: you whip into the parking lot at Kwik Trip. You slam the car door (unlocked) and crash through the doors, offering a brief and immediately forgotten curse that there are two sets of doors and God forbid another human being is anywhere within the arc of those doors.
You slalom back to the restroom area in Olympic time, only to meet the sign on the door: OUT OF ORDER. Or worse, CLOSED FOR CLEANING. Either way, every ounce of your being – maybe even pints or quarts – is making seismic rumblings as you consider, perhaps for the first time ever, identifying with the other gender for the next 30 seconds or so. The citation from the police office after the fact would be worth it.
One of the first and hardest lessons in life is that not everything works the way it’s supposed to. Your plans don’t just go astray: they evacuate the premises and disappear like they’ve been beamed up to Sarpedion 5 or someplace. Or, as the great philosopher Mick Jagger once put it, “You can’t always get what you want.”
What happens then? Most people either stop and stew and pout, or they crash forward to claim whatever crown, condition or inheritance they believe they are entitled to. We are either paralyzed by fear or frustration, or we are buffeted by the winds and waves from a storm of our own devising, but which we never saw coming. Despite the forecast.
We are out of order.
One of the great failures of atheism is the belief system that projects order coming magically and mystically out of chaos, with no catalyzing or energizing agent - that nothing produces something. In the beginning, God put everything in order. The entirety of His creation is aligned perfectly for life. The entirety of His Word is aligned perfectly for Life.
When human beings decided that they know better, they chose to pursue a different alignment, which is not alignment at all. It is disorder. It is self-deification, idolatry in its oldest and most catastrophic incarnation. The greater catastrophe, aside from what Adam and Eve did to themselves, is what they did to God and everyone else. Human desire sought to overthrow and replace divine providence. Self love – truly a contradiction in terms, but we’ll grant the concept – eviscerates the real love that can only be true because it is purely self-less. The First Commandment is not, “You shall have no other gods before yourself.”
Here's an oversimplification, in two questions:
1. Is the world a mess?
2. Does the world follow God?
Yes + No = Disorder. Also depression, destruction, division, and devastation. Many years ago there was a bar in West Bend we used to visit called “The 5 D’s.” Well there you go.
If we don’t like God’s plan, we substitute one of our own. If we don’t like God’s design, we try to engineer a better one. If we don’t like God’s sense of timing, we plunge forward, consequences be damned.
Impatience is the key symptom here. Martin Luther once said that impatience is the worst of sins because it leads to all the others. More specifically, he said, “Those speak foolishly who ascribe their anger or their impatience to such as offend them or to tribulation. Tribulation does not make people impatient, but proves that they are impatient. So everyone may learn from tribulation how his heart is constituted.” A heart separated from God and His Word is a heart destined for disorder. Or tribulation. Or breakage.
Living together before marriage is adultery, period. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” (Hebrews 13:4). Looking at porn is adultery, period. “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Being patient with His gift of sexuality keeps your life in order.
Not all loves are love. In both Testaments, Christ provides the proper order for our love, emotionally and physically. And there are some whom we are NOT given to love physically: someone else’s spouse, a child, or someone of the same sex (Romans 1:21-27). He specifies the good order that blesses rather than curses.
It is not your body, your choice. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Your right to live as you please ends at the right of another person to live, and God is abundantly clear on the personhood of every life He creates. Respecting His precious and holy gift of life keeps you in order.
God gives 610 other laws that are intended for His righteous order for our lives. And for each one we find a thousand ways to screw it up.
Two more overly simple questions:
1. Is your life a mess?
2. Do you follow God?
Not just when it’s convenient or when you think He’s not looking. And obviously not all the messes are our own.
But given the disordered, messed-up world we live in – surrounded by people even more messed-up than we are, if that’s possible – God is going to let some of that mess spill over into our lives. Those are the teachable moments, when we truly learn who we screw-ups really are, and who He is.
Jesus doesn’t come to call the righteous but the sinners, the screwers, the messers, the losers. When He calls us, He loves us. When He loves us, He saves us. When He saves us, He changes us. We realize how much smarter He is, how much better His plan will be for us, and how much we need to follow Him back into a life that works. We need Jesus to make that work for us. We need Jesus to do the miraculously difficult job of reshaping, rebuilding and reforming us from the inside out.
We need Jesus. We need the humility to know what we don’t know, and the patience to know that He does.
Otherwise, our options are to hop on one foot, or – in classic Pythonese – to soil our armor.
Give me Jesus.
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.