Finding Freedom in Chaos

    I don’t know if any of you have noticed but the world is a weird place to be right now.  

    Everyone has a big opinion about everything *backed by Facebook science*.  It’s impossible literally to know how to breathe without freaking someone out. Meeting in person has become challenging so we moved to our online spaces for some connection and that turned into an anxiety minefield, between the news and the opinions and fighting.  

    Shame on you. 

No matter what we do or don’t do or say or not say, shame on you is the chant of the world right now.  Does anyone else feel that?  It feels like we all need to take up our swords and defend our hills. There is division and judgement over everything.  It’s emotionally exhausting, and it’s constant. 

    So here’s a fun question to start us off…have you ever gotten into a fight on social media?  You guys wouldn’t do that…
Maybe it was an innocent comment that blew up into something your sweet little mind never intended, bless us all that has happened a lot lately.  Or maybe someone said something that was Just. So. Wrong. And they really had to be educated…right?  Sadly, I am a paying member to the FB fight club, I confess so you can learn from my experience of being a dum dum. 

    Let me tell you how this went down:  It started with a fringe friend.  A fringe friend is someone we know but not really well.  It’s always the fringe friends that get us into trouble. They are the ones whose social media lives become a revelation after we "friend" them.  You are thinking of someone right now, aren't you?  Anyway, years ago, before the internet was quite so stabby, this fringe friend posted a quote about loving others being icing-like it was nice but not really that important, compared to the justice of God.  And that just hit me wrong…and that’s how these things start, isn’t it?  

    So I felt it my *duty* to share about the importance of love, and that it is *actually* the number one command of the Bible, oh Lord bless me.  I wasn’t trying to be difficult.  I thought we were having a discussion since she put it out there.  You know you are in trouble when you start to type, “well actually…”. Just stop and delete it and look up cat videos instead.  Trust me and you will thank me later.

    So I put my tiny little thought out there and waited for gratitude and praise for my incredibly insightful and right point of view.  Shockingly that is not what happened.  That post was an atomic bomb.  People I didn’t know were attacking my character and saying that I knew nothing about being a Christian. And that I should read the Bible. And that I was a horrible person.  I’ll bet they would think it was super funny to know they were attacking a pastor’s wife. Surprise! It got so bad, I was getting phone calls from friends that knew us both and they were like, "What is happening??  Who are these people??  Just so you know, you are so right and I’m totally on your side".    

    It was the dumbest thing I have ever spent time on in my life.  You guys, I was in a Facebook fight about LOVE.  About how important it is to love people.  I could not make this up if I tried.  And God was like, “teachable moment”.    

    Here’s the thing, love did not need me to defend it that day.  Love would have gotten on just fine without my excellent, super important big opinion on the subject.  But I learned some really great things in that interaction.  It felt so important for just a second.  And this is how all the world feels like right now.  Too many things feel critically important to deal with, and too many big opinions are in our face telling us how to feel.  We are being shouted at that we MUST react, but then our reaction is wrong and it’s robbing us of our peace.         

    How do we be a good human right now?    

    We can live out kingdom values and not be reactive to everything.  We can live as people who have been set free and we can have peace, even with the way the world currently is.  We can love and honor people who have opinions that are different from us.  

    I want to share three things that God has been working on in me in the hopes that they resonate with you too.  I think they are incredibly relevant right now. These three things look at what my purpose is and isn’t.  When I am walking closely with the Father in my purpose I have peace in my heart, even in chaos. 

    One of the biggest ways the enemy works to distract and discourage us is in our purpose.  He steals our peace by trying to make us be what we’re not. He’s constantly trying to get us to live outside of God’s purpose for us.    

    God is very intentional with what he calls us.  We are kingdom bringers.  We live out our faith in ways that bring the values of the kingdom of God to this earth.  We are called to live out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  We are salt and light.  Encouragement to each other.  A royal priesthood.  People who live in unity.  Created in the image of God to bring praise to him by following Jesus and acting how he acted.  We are people who are called to love as our highest goal.  These are the things that God calls us and calls us to in the Bible.  These things are completely attainable through God working in our lives.  Yet, some of them feel impossible right now, don’t they?  

    Here’s what we are not called to:  We are not called to be people who place our highest value on our opinions.  God never called us the people who are always right.  God never asked us to make sure that everyone thinks the same as us.  We are not called to be people who educate others on their opinions.  We are not the Holy Spirit.  Now sometimes God gives us the space to speak truth with love into other people’s lives, and that’s not what I’m talking about here.  Most of the time we need to trust that God is working on others the same way he’s working on our hearts and release control of their actions and opinions to him.  We’re so conditioned as Americans to believe that our opinions and feelings are the most important thing, but investing our energy into them is one of the least influential things we can do with our lives.  

    Instead we are commanded to be people who love.  Love is patient, love is kind, it doesn’t boast, it isn’t proud, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t only look after itself, it isn’t easily angered, love always hopes for the best for someone else.


Where in world is love right now? 

 


It’s in you, it’s in me, waiting for our yes to release it. 
There is never a shortage of love, but if we aren’t careful, there could be a shortage of people who choose to love.     

    So here’s the first thing I need to release myself from to clear out clutter and help me love others better:  I need to release myself from the belief that I need to police, judge, or correct other people’s opinions or actions.  I think this seems like, well, YA, but how many times has someone else’s opinion hit us wrong and we think we need to act on it in some way?  I clearly felt that way about love in my earlier example.  How many times do we have an emotional response to things other people have put out in the world and then it ruins our day?  Even if I’m just internally judging other people’s opinions, it’s exhausting.  There are so many.  People are so wrong. Haha. 

    It makes us feel important in the moment to think we are defending truth.  Truth (of Jesus) never actually needs defending.  Truth stands on its own, precisely because God’s truth is always standing in love, looking out for the best for others, redeeming what’s broken.  Because of that, it is never a weapon to beat people with.  

 

    The truth of Jesus is never a weapon to beat people with.

 

When we choose to be right without love we loose our influence and our rightness doesn’t matter because no one is listening. The Bible says that we can have all wisdom and all knowledge, but forcing it on others without love being our motivation makes us an annoying noise-a clanging gong.  We are not made to be noise.  We are so much more than that.  Our words as believers carry hope and healing.    

    I have an interesting experiment for you.  I’m going to change one word-the noun, in these verses out of Romans and see if they aren’t a perfect fit for some things we are wading through right now: 

    This is from Romans chapters 14-15. 14 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to not wear a mask. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will only wear a mask. Those who feel free to not wear a mask must not look down on those who don’t. And those who wear masks must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them… 12 each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that wearing a mask or not wearing a mask in and of itself, is not wrong. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you wear or don’t wear, you are not acting in love if you do it. Don’t let what you wear ruin someone for whom Christ died. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we wear, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. 15 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    These verses were originally talking about food sacrificed to idols, but you had better believe that these people felt just as strongly about this as we do about things today.  And I know, science and all that, but guys there are people that I love and respect with science on both sides of this, and we are missing the point.  The question isn’t, “How can I convince everyone to believe what I believe?”  The question is, “How is God asking me to love my neighbor right now?  What does love look like right now?”  The enemy would love to do a bait and switch here and make us ask the wrong questions, to walk in the wrong purpose.    

    Why do we care about our own tiny opinion over the precious people in our lives?  What good is it if I make sure everyone knows what I believe if I burn down my relationships to prove it?  We can obey the mandate of the Bible in how we treat each other and have a beautiful different opinion from someone else.  Unity is built around fruit of the spirit not uniformity of opinion.  

    It gets really dangerous when we start telling people who they should and shouldn’t BE. Remember earlier I said the devil tries to distract us from our purpose.  Well he will use our good intentioned opinions aimed at others to discourage them.  The devil is called the accuser.  And he would love to recruit more accusers to his cause.  Especially believers because it hurts more coming from us.  How heartbreaking that the devil uses us-our pride in our "rightness" to beat down others.        

    The enemy would also love for us to believe that our purpose lies in what’s out there and trying to control what others are thinking and doing because we totally can’t.  It’s impossible.  It’s a complete waste of our time and influence.  We’ll never be at peace if we feel like we need to have a moral knee jerk reaction to everything that’s happening "out there".  If it’s out of our sphere of influence, we should give it freedom from our minds as well. There are a lot of things that we just have to keep handing over to God with trust that he’s got it covered.

       We have so much kingdom work to do where we actually have the authority and power to change lives, to bind up the brokenhearted, to encourage one another to love and good deeds, to unleash, to cheerlead, to love well.  Let’s do that.  More of that.  When we walk in that we ARE helping sort the world out but on GOD’S terms.  The peace of God and fulfillment is in that.   

 

    The second thing that God is working on in my heart is the hardest one for me.  I’m terrible at this.  UUUUUGH.  A second way to have the peace of God in your life in a world in chaos is to release yourself from the belief that you need to defend yourself.  Ever.   

    What someone has said about you, your opinion, what you know, whatever Is something inside you already screaming, wait, no, you’re wrong?  

    Let me tell you why we should resist defending ourselves: 

2 Chronicles 20:17 "You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf…”

Deuteronomy 3:22 "You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you."

Isaiah 54:17 "No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord."

Deuteronomy 1:30 "The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes."

Romans 8:31 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

I could go on.  I honestly had no idea how many times God has promised to fight for me.  It’s a lot.  I totally missed it.  I have a deep belief that I need to defend myself, but that’s not truth.   

    God himself has promised to fight for you.  Over and over again. 

    Exodus 14:14 in the New King James Version says, “The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”  You shall hold your peace.  That can be taken two ways right?  Like you shall hold your tongue AND when the Lord fights for you, you get to hold onto your peace.  Your peace remains intact.     

    God will allow us to fight for ourselves but we will never be as good at it as him. One reason why is we are terrible at even knowing who our enemy is.  The Bible tells us that our enemy is not flesh and blood, but evil.  And we believe that, we do…but we do tend to act like we believe that we have enemies…we do let our opinions polarize us.  We do defend ourselves.  We do take sides.  

    Believing the wrong things about our enemies will damage our relationships.  We’re really good at creating frenemies.  We have become frenemy factories.  A frenemy is someone that should be a friend but it kinda our enemy.  We have opinions about them and they have opinions about us.  Maybe because we are good church people we act sweet to them to their face, but we really don’t like them.  And we need deliverance from that.  We need freedom from frenemies.  

    When I fought for love on Facebook, I created a frenemy.  I drew a line and took my stand and got offended and defended myself.  That’s a really common, human response.  But we’re supposed to be like Jesus, right? 

    Jesus made a habit of inviting the “enemy” to the party.  He invited sinners, tax collectors, the ones the religious had called out as not belonging.  The ones who weren’t “holy” enough. 

Jesus knew Judas would betray him but he did not treat him as his enemy.  This is the one that really struck me because this was personal.  Jesus invited this man into his inner circle and cared for him and taught him and sacrificed for him.  You better believe that Jesus loved Judas.  You had better believe Judas hurt Jesus’ very human heart.  Can you imagine if Jesus spent his last days on earth going around to all his friends trying to talk badly about Judas?  

    If Jesus was like, “You guys, did you see Judas give me the side eye.  He has been so rude lately.  And I totally haven’t done anything to him. I have been such a good friend and he hasn’t even liked any of my Insta posts for weeks.  And I saw him post a selfie with the Chief Priests and I know they don’t like me.  Do you think they were talking about me?”  Can you just imagine if that was in the Gospels?  Because there are times when that’s what would have been written in the gospel of Lynsey.   Thank God that doesn’t exist.     

    Jesus didn’t do that because Judas was never his enemy. Jesus didn’t battle the Romans, he didn’t defend his honor agains his accusers.  Jesus knew his mission was to fight the evil of the world and death and separation from God, not one person or one group.  If that was the case he could have wiped them off the planet but instead he died to save them.  He loved them, to the very end.    

    When I decide my enemy is human, there is no hope for my relationship.  Instead, if we trust God with the people in our lives, there is always redemption at work.  Do I believe that God is working on other people?  Do I trust him with my reputation?  I never need to defend when I am obedient.  It may seem like I do, but I don’t.  Do I trust him even when things look sideways and people are coming for me?  Because you can do all the right things and people will still misunderstand your heart.  It’s so tempting to meddle in what God’s trying to do because he takes too long it doesn’t seem like he has things under control or we can’t possibly see how it’s all going to work out.  I have been deep in all of this and it’s the times that I have trusted God with it and didn’t go on a campaign to make myself look better and another person look badly, that God has created something beautiful out of what I thought could never be made right. 

    We cannot defend ourselves better than God can.  He will let us try and we’ll get what we get but it will always be a detour and not the road to our purpose. 

    I end up in a lot of challenging conversations. That’s the nature of ministry and really just being out in the world right now. God has showed me there is always the space in between processing what someone is saying and thinking of my response back or trying to prove my point. Instead God has showed me to really listen to this person in front of me and pray, "What does love look like here?"  Because my response coming from a place of love is a totally different response than me just saying whatever to make myself sound smart. 

    God will always answer that prayer because that’s his heart. And the more we do it the better we get at hearing his answer. It takes the anxiety out of hard conversations for me. I don’t over analyze and replay in my head. I have peace about it. Because what you did is you just brought the heart of Jesus into that space for both of you. It’s also usually not a meek answer. It sometimes stands some interesting ground. There are a lot of times I have no idea what is going to come out of my mouth. It lets me answer with kingdom values and wisdom instead of Lynsey values.  

    I have also prayed to be un-offendable.  God and I are certainly still working on this one.  Offense is born from my pride.  And I’ve turned people over to Jesus in my heart: "God, this is too much for me to carry.  They are yours, I give them back to you".  

    If we spent half as much time letting ourselves get sucked into drama and just stood in the peace of God. If we let him fight for us and put that time into love, we would change the world.  I know we certainly would be a changed people. 

   

     The third thing that has brought peace to my life and helped me walk in purpose has been to release myself from carrying other people’s opinions and judgements on myself.  We need to decide to be free from the words people have spoken over our lives.  We are the ones who give them permission to live on in our hearts.  We decide if we believe them or not.  They only have the power we let them have. 

    In Romans 15:3 it says, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  Jesus carries the things that are brought against us, that are meant to insult us, to devalue us, to chain us up to shame.  May we not chain OURSELVES back up by believing lies about ourselves. 

    It helps me a lot to see patterns that the enemy uses to discourage us.  Matthew 4 talks about Satan tempting Jesus to prove who he was.  Satan said, “If you are the son of God, prove it.  Turn these rocks into bread and feed yourself,”  Do you see what the devil is doing here?  "Prove who you are!"  But Jesus didn’t come to earth to turn rocks into bread or to make Satan believe he was God.  But Satan does this with us too…every time someone calls us something we aren’t and we feel like we need to prove them wrong…It sounds like, "Who do you think you are?"  "You’ll never succeed."  "You’re doing it wrong."  Fill in the blank with your thing.  For me, it’s:  "You don’t belong."  He often calls us out on exactly the opposite of our purpose and dares us to prove it.  It's his same old sad party trick.  And if we fall for it, we can spend our whole lives trying to prove what we already are, what God has already called us, and we won’t get to walk in the blessing of our purpose.      

     God gave us tools to be free from attacks on who we are.  He tells us how to build up the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. In 16 it says,  “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.  Every time the enemy sends lies our way, we need to let those arrows bounce.  We need to raise our shields of faith and believe that we are who God says we are, that God is who he says he is, that he will do what he says he will do for us. 

 

God has made us teflon,
but we keep walking around like we’re velcro. 

 

We keep catching and hanging on to everything that is aimed at us.  We keep letting those arrows burn us.  Believe God and let everything else go.  Let go of the velcro.    

    What words have you hung onto that are robbing you of your purpose or your peace?  Raise your shield of faith.  Hand those hurts over to Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross. Recognize the lies meant to derail you.  Be free in your mind and your heart.  Be teflon.   

 

    So much of our peace will come from how we decide to engage with others.  When we trust God with the redeeming work in others, we trust God to defend us himself, and we release ourselves from the opinions of others we are free to walk in our purpose.  We clear away the clutter that blocks us from loving our neighbor as ourselves.  We release ourselves from having any part in the enemy’s scheme.  We release peace into our lives.  

    

    I don’t know about your heart, but here’s what I need to hear right now, so I’m going to speak it over you, my friends:  Love always wins, no matter how hard things are.  God promises it never fails. The love of God is the most powerful force in the universe.  It matters when you love people.  Even if you don’t see it today.  It matters that you love people to the very best of your ability and in the supernatural power that the Holy Spirit has given you. It matters especially when everything around you seems dark because good hearts shine brightest in the darkest days.  You’re doing better than you think at loving people.  God will help you get better at it your whole life.  God is for you.  He wants to give you peace in your heart the passes all understanding of current circumstances.  He wants us to have healthy encouraging relationships where we are for each other the way he is for us.  Let’s open up our hands and release our relationships to God’s redemptive power.    Let’s accept his peace over our lives.  Would you pray with me?     

 

    So first God, we thank you that you have given us wisdom and reason to form opinions.  Opinions are not bad.  We ask that you remove pride from our opinions.  It’s pride that pits us against others.  We ask that our motivations will come from your purpose for us-that we would be people who are motivated with love for each other.  We ask that you use our opinions in healthy ways to bring your kingdom to this earth.  May we always be people who encourage each other to love and good deeds, and not people who take on the role of the accuser. 

    Second, we thank you that you defend us from our true enemies.  Thank you for your great love for us that died taking all our accusations on yourself.  We pray that we would waste less time needlessly defending ourselves and trust that you are always taking care of us.  We pray that we don’t take on battles or walk into drama that does not belong to us.  We pray to be teflon, not velcro.  May we be unoffendable. May we instead always look to what love would do in the moment we are in.   

    Third, we thank you for calling each of us into a beautiful destiny as children of the King.  Lord, I pray for freedom in my head, heart and life from lies spoken over who I am, Lord I pray for freedom for each person in our community.  May we walk in the names you have called us, not the names others have called us.  We release the lies to you.  Today is the day we refuse to believe them anymore.  Today is the day we stop trying to prove to anyone who we are.  You have already made us who we are.  

    Lord we hand the people in our lives over to you and humbly ask for your will over our relationships.  May we all be people who are a light for each other in dark times, who speak hope and healing and encouragement and may we be surrounded by people who do the same.  May we believe in your power to use our tiny efforts to change the culture to reflect your heart.  We believe that your love never fails, that it always wins in the end.  

    Thank you that you hear us.  

Amen.

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