It seems no matter where I look or whom I am listening to, I hear people speaking about confusion. So often I hear the words, “I am so confused!” It would be one thing if it related to the news headlines that bombard us from every source, but it doesn’t stop there. Over and over again I hear it about “the big rocks” like values, principles, beliefs, and choices. I hear it as well from brothers and sisters in the body as they appear to be trying to sort out what they believe about what their faith rests upon or how to apply it to the postmodern world we live in.
A dictionary gives the following definition of confusion: “lack of understanding; uncertainty; a situation of panic or breakdown of order; a disorderly jumble; or the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind about something.” Yikes! If that definition is accurate, what does that say about us, about me? Have I, have we, lost all of our moorings? Where has all this confusion come from and why is it such a major factor in our lives?
My thoughts quickly recall Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:33a:
“For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace…” Those words clearly tell me that the confusion is not from God, but what is the true source? What is the root?
I was blessed to hear a recent sermon at our son’s church by his pastor whom I greatly respect. Tucked into the message, he answered the question I just shared with you:
“Confusion comes from rebellion, idolatry, and self-devotion. Where these three are, there will be confusion in an individual or a nation.” Pastor Steve Berger, Grace Chapel, Leiper’s Fork, TN.
As I heard those riveting words, I knew he had nailed it. I think we have been looking in all the wrong places to resolve the matter of confusion. It can be far easier to look and point to so many things, people, and institutions as the source or fault of the problem and they may well bear some blame or even a great deal of blame, but I think we/I need to look a bit closer to home first. Institutions, businesses, organizations, and nations are made up of and guided by individuals. If individuals are not grounded in the truth of who they are and whose they are, they will surely fall prey to spreading the confusion in them throughout whatever entity of which they are a part.
The enemy (Satan) is an expert in rebellion and he exports it regularly into humanity. It started in Eden, but he has not stopped with Eden. We see that beyond Genesis throughout the entire Bible and it didn’t end when John finished writing Revelation. Something inside us rankles at the possibility of constraint of our own desires to do whatever we want when we want. We call for freedom when often we are really rebelling against a set of values and principles that do not suit us at the moment. It happens in little ways all the time and dulls us to its influence. It happens when we choose to go a little faster than the speed limit says because the limit doesn’t make sense to us or we are in a hurry for our busy life. It happens when our doctor has warned us that we cannot continue to eat certain things because of one health condition or another and yet we do it any way.
Rebellion? Yes, we are all guilty to one degree or another. Then Satan accuses us of the very thing he has tempted us to do and fogs our understanding of how we got into the accident, the emergency room, or wherever else the rebellion may lead us. And make no mistake: rebellion is deadly. God speaks through Samuel to Saul in 1 Samuel 15:23a: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination (witchcraft in King James), and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry…”
So perhaps you can agree about the issue of rebellion, but idolatry? That might be tougher to swallow. We immediately think of bowing to idols of stone, actual objects that are revered and imbued with power in our own belief system, but looking at the meaning more closely might give us pause. Idolatry also is defined as “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone”. When those things exist, we may well be tempted to do or become anything to please or appease that something or someone and leave the truth of who we are behind without recognizing we have been seduced once again to put someone other than the Lord in first place in our hearts. It can so often happen as believers as we “look up to” and then move a step further in our devotion to a pastor or Christian leader that we overly-idealize and then follow without question.
Perhaps that makes the line easier to see the issue of self-devotion. We are far more devoted to ourselves than we may recognize. We want what is convenient to us and what we like far too often versus what is best for us or what is right. We want what will boost our position more than how we support and lift up someone else. We want. We believe we deserve.
How is it that we can so easily find ourselves lost somewhere along “the yellow brick road”? Have we really fallen prey to the magical devices of the wizard?
I cannot answer that for you, but the sobering reality the pastor’s words have created for me is the importance of the absolute unshakable foundation I must daily stand on.
That foundation is God’s Word. It answers all the questions and gives the only hope. It points to mercy and grace. It gives light and truth to the darkness of this world.
How much I immerse myself in that foundation determines how successful I will be in fending off confusion. I am the one who is responsible to secure and defend that foundation with the help of the Holy Spirit. I am the one who is responsible to place myself under the wise teaching of a pastor whose messages are centered on that Word. But that does not change my personal responsibility to read and study to strengthen that foundation.
Are we willing to face the source of confusion and be God’s change agents to defeat it? If so, how would that change our circle of relationships, our church, or even our nation?