I have heard any number of times in the past year about an alleged Chinese curse that is something like “may you live in interesting times.” I have to admit I know nothing of the Chinese language; I often use numbers when ordering at the restaurant. I even know less about Chinese curses, but I have been thinking we do live in confusing times.
When I became a Christ-follower some time ago, it was in the last century; the Bible verses that became fixed in my mind were from the King James Version. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,” (1 Corinthians 14:33). I have repeated that simple verse to myself and others countless times over the years when things seemed to be unraveling for whatever reason. The NIV translates the word as “disorder,” but I think the concept still works. I firmly believe the old adage “text without context is pretext” so for clarity Paul had been writing to the churches in Corinth about spiritual gifts, their use and unfortunate misuse.
That being said confusion seems to flow from multiple sources — but all of them exclude God. In fact, God is the source of ultimate order; He brings order out of chaos and creates peace. Our finely tuned “goldilocks” universe is the perfect example: “not too hot or not too cold but just right” to sustain life. So then, if confusion does not come from God where does it come from? I am happy you asked.
Confusion or disorder may come from several places. It is an old but well used trick of the enemy of our soul, called the serpent in Genesis 3:1 where he asked the question not for the sake of clarification but confusion: “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Underline in your mind the word “really.” When doubt exists confusion is not far behind.
In addition to supernatural evil there is also human evil which is on display all of the time and is often easily spotted in others. Confusion also comes when there is a lack of discernible facts, either from lack of information or the often discussed misinformation which is currently enjoying great popularity. The Babylon Bee, which is a satirical website, offering “Fake news you can trust” is a refreshing change from other alleged news organizations who routinely assert facts not in evidence.
I am sure I am missing other possible sources of confusion, but there is one more I would like to consider. That is simply a lack of focus; a potential concern for many groups including those who identify as people of faith. Allow me to quickly illustrate with the picture from Matthew’s letter describing the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus came walking on the water and approached a boat full of frightened disciples. At least a few of them were professional fishermen who understood the severity of the situation; the facts were not in dispute. I can only guess at what was going through the mind of the impetuous Peter when he asked for the opportunity to join Jesus on the water. You may need to read chapter fourteen of Matthew for the whole story, but note that when Peter “saw the wind he was afraid.” The facts hadn’t changed but his focus had. Instead of looking at the ultimate source of hope, he became distracted and lost hope. It does not seem to matter if we live in interesting times or confusing times; we can still continue to have our trust in His love for us, and His power to get us back to the boat.
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.