My life feels busy—sometimes crazy busy. While homeschooling five kids who are in various activities, it feels like a lot of juggling to make it all work. And although I aspire to have a clean and organized home, the reality is that I am so not there. I can even feel the chaos creeping in—a few more dirty dishes in the sink, a few more books piled on the counter, a few more puzzle pieces left out. Then, if I’m not careful, it’s full on crazy-town house, where there is crusted play dough on the carpet, piles of dirty clothes, and don’t even ask about the kitchen. What happened? Why is it so chaotic? Because kids? Because I’m a bad house keeper? Because my hubby doesn’t pick up the slack?
It’s not really any of that. It’s that my surroundings begin to dictate my feelings, and I have let the chaos in. It enters through my perception of my circumstances. Because the truth really is that even if I had a perfect system and was on top of my schedule and my house was perfectly clean and my kids were actually tiny self-cleaning robots, these things would not guarantee my sanity—and I would not automatically have peace. Because there would always be something else. Because the enemy doesn’t play fair, and even if I had the best hand, he’d throw in the ace he’s hidden up his sleeve. He cheats by whispering: You aren’t good enough. You haven’t cleaned up enough. You are failing miserably, and it is your fault. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Because it’s not an equation. Because a clean house doesn’t equal success whereas a messy house equals failure. Because there are seven of us and we are all still learning how to live together. Because we all need grace Every. Single. Day. Grace says, I refuse to judge you for your sticky floor because I see your heart and know that making pancakes with your toddler says love so much more than a freshly mopped floor. Grace says, yes the space is cluttered but let’s work on this together as a team—without blaming or casting judgment on the sloppiest child (who also may be the most creative). Grace says, in the midst of the chaos—the whirling storm of judgment beating down on your soul—choose peace.
In the gospels, there is an account of Jesus calming a literal storm. Jesus was with his disciples late one night on a boat, and a “furious” storm broke out, where waves were actually crashing into the boat. The storm was so terrible that the disciples thought they were going to die. And in the middle of this awful storm, Jesus was sound asleep. He was at complete peace in the middle of complete chaos. The chaos was around but it was not within. “The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:38-39)
I am reminded of Jesus on that boat when I think about my daily struggles. When I choose to reject those critical voices within, the storm calms and there is peace. Because there will be seasons that things don’t look perfect on the outside. There will be sticky counters and messy projects and piles of laundry. And so the storms will rage. But looking past the outward, going deep within—that is the place to find rest. And this is a reminder to me, to choose peace in the middle of my mess.
One thing we lack today or at least what seems to be lacking is expository, Christ-centered preaching. We need to counter this culture that allows for mediocre, passive preaching, and splicing of the Gospel.
We live in a time where Christ and Christ-centered preaching takes a back seat to the topic of the day. Turn on the news, you’ll see it. Go on Facebook, Google, any one of these mediums and it will not take you long to see examples of this. My opinion is that the movement, Coexist is a prime example of this. Still don’t believe me? I came across a page on Facebook, which belongs to the “Christian” magazine/newsletter, Sojourners. However, after just reading the articles, the views, and actually speaking with someone via messenger, it was clear their views did not line up with God’s. Promoting the ordination of homosexual pastors – a view that placates to the “God is love, and we are all God’s children” movement that seems to be sweeping churches, is a clear attack on the actual and accurate preaching of a Christ-centered gospel.
I recently read an article in Charisma magazine called, Here’s How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel, written by Chelsen Vicari that breaks down this movement into three types of Christians: “Couch potato” – silent, saying nothing, especially on the tough topics like abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. “Cafeteria style” – picking and choosing what part of God’s word to live by. Most of the time they like the nice parts of the Gospel. “Convictional” – they mimic Christ by preaching a message of the Gospel, refusing to be quiet, and coming from a place of love and grace. The interesting thing about this is, if you look around today you’ll find more of the first two types of Christians that simply lack a Christ-centered gospel. I believe, “The only thing that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke). In this case, all that is necessary is for Christ-centered preaching to be ignored or not preached.
So I ask this – I actually end this with a series of questions for you. Where did we miss it? Was it a subtle attack or did we just not respond fast enough? Are we really lacking Christ-centered, expository preaching? Personally, I’ve heard the cry for my Spurgeons, Tyndales, Luthers, and other highly influential religious figures who dedicated or gave up their lives for their beliefs. I don’t think we need that or do we? I think we need people who are not afraid to be expositors of the word – No matter the cost. I leave you with this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book, The Cost of Discipleship – I think it fits perfectly to what Christianity is allowing. “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”