One glaring piece of evidence of this is seen in the proliferation of mass shootings in America. While other evidences could be articulated, this would not help the people facing the chaos. Which leads to the question, how does one face the chaos? An answer to this question may be found in the pages of history and the Bible.
In the early 60s AD, Peter, writing from Rome, wrote a letter to a group of Christians scattered throughout modern Turkey. In this letter, he gives a prescription on how to face chaos. The timing of this letter cannot be underestimated.
In 64 AD, the Roman Emperor Nero set Rome ablaze. After setting the city on fire, Nero cast the blame on the Christians living in the city. This began a season of horrifying persecution against Christians in the Roman empire.
How were the Christians of this era to face such chaos? With hope in Jesus. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3. Is there anything to learn from these Christians? Yes. We can learn from their attitude, reaction and ambition.
• Attitude: When facing chaos, one would be wise to face it with an attitude that is other-centered. In 1 Peter 3:8, Peter uses five words to describe an other-centered attitude. “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind hearted, and humble in spirit,” 1 Peter 3:8.
The first of these words is harmonious which simply means, “to be of like mind.” The second is sympathetic which is, “to show concern.” From there he moves to brotherly, which is “brotherly love.” Brotherly love leads one to show compassion and compassion is motivated from a humble heart. When one adds all of these descriptive words together, he or she is found with an attitude that is other-centered.
What would our world look like if everyone had an attitude that displayed concern for his or her neighbor?
• Reaction: Some will say Peter’s next admonishment seems to be completely out of touch with our society. He calls his readers to react to insults and mistreatment in a countercultural way. Instead of returning “evil for evil” or “insult for insult,” he calls for blessing. “Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing,” 1 Peter 3:9. This word blessing used in verse nine can also mean, “to eulogizes someone.”
He is literally saying, “face evil with good, and insults with kindness.” This sounds much like what Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,’” Matthew 5:43-44.
Unfortunately, most people find it impossible to react to insults with kindness, which only leads to more insults. For America to overcome the chaos, we must react with grace and humility.
• Ambition: The only way anyone can face insult with blessing is with an ambition of peace. Peter told his readers to, “strive or work hard for peace.” “He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it,” 1 Peter 3:11. When you face chaos with an ambition to be at peace with your fellow man, it will give you a brand-new perspective.
This was the ambition of Jesus when He walked on earth 2,000 years ago. He came to make peace with men and God. He did this by surrendering His life on the cross. He died so you can have peace with God. He was raised from the dead so you can live with God forever.
Everyone is going to face moments of chaos. However, no one has to face it alone. You can face chaos with an other-center attitude. You can face chaos with a reaction of blessing, and you can make it your ambition to be at peace with your fellow man. Jesus makes all of this possible to those who will call to Him in repentance and faith.
How are you going to face chaos?
Will McReynolds is senior pastor of West Hills Baptist Church in Lebanon. Preacher’s Corner features a new local preacher writing a column each month.