Five Ways to Experience Restoration, Healing and Hope in a Broken World
Week 1 in a Lenten Series for Stewards and Steward Leaders
This season of Lent doesn’t feel like any other I have experienced in my 62 years of life. I’ve lived through the turmoil of national crises like the riots of the sixties, Vietnam, 9/11, and the 2008 financial crisis, and the lesser spectacular but nonetheless impactful tragedies and challenges of everyday life. Often these experiences have brought us to our knees and challenged some of our deepest held convictions about life and faith. Yet, even in our worst moments, there was always a sense that we’d been through it before and things would get better. We could see it, sense it, believe it.
But not so today. What I believe we are experiencing is a level of cultural disintegration and moral chaos the likes of which we have never seen. If you agree, even in part, I propose that the collateral damage of our times is seen in at least three ways; brokenness, woundedness and despair.
We are a broken nation marked by anger, division, vitriol and antagonism. Our brokenness is shouted daily from every news station and lived out in the classrooms of our schools, courtrooms in our halls of justice, pews in our churches and dining rooms in our homes.
We are a wounded nation, marked by a culture whose first response to differing voices is to accuse, attack and injure. Our woundedness is carried by all of us collectively and personally, and it gives rise to bitterness, isolation and resentment.
We are an increasingly hopeless nation, marked by cynicism, apathy and a pursuit of avenues that offer escape through distorting reality if even for a short time. Our hopelessness is seen not only in the rise of physical suicide, but in the subtler version of emotional suicide through a numbing narcissism.
Lent is a season marked by reflection, repentance and prayer, and this year we have an opportunity to ask deeper questions about how we as stewards live and thrive in this time of growing moral chaos and cultural turmoil. I will look at five ways we can walk this Lenten journey in a meaningful way. Each week will follow the process of reflection – repentance – restoration – healing – hope.
This week (week #1) I want to look briefly at our penchant for kingdom building. Since Satan’s victory in the garden we have an innate desire to ‘be like God’ and build for ourselves a kingdom over which we can play the lord. We put the stuff in that kingdom over which we want to exercise control. That may be our time, our finances, our reputation, our security, our health and our future. It may also include relationships where we want to control the outcomes, like our marriage, our work relationships, our children and our friendships. There is no end to the stuff we can be tempted to keep in our own little kingdoms. What’s in yours?
Here’s the deception, the more we seek to control the things in our kingdom, the more it all controls us. The fruit of kingdom keeping is fear, stress, anxiety and despair. As kingdom keepers we have our backs up, and our reactions to threats to our kingdoms align us with a culture of antagonism, cynicism and despair. We cannot reflect the values of God’s kingdom while we are busy building our own.
In this Lenten season, we must repent of our kingdom building ways. And this repentance will lead us to surrender. It’s only through a total relinquishment of control that we find the freedom offered us in the gospel. And it is only through this freedom that we can be opened up to live for others.
Reflection leads to repentance, and repentance leads to a restoration of our true calling as One-Kingdom people where everything belongs to God and God alone. When there is only one Lord in our life, we are set free to embrace our true calling and live for others. Restoration then leads to healing of the stresses and anxieties that plague kingdom builders. In our roles as leaders, we are set free from playing the owners of our work and are healed from the fears such an attitude produces.
And once we are set free and healed, our hope is renewed as we commit daily to walk the journey of the faithful steward. Hope is found when we define success as faithfulness and measure success in kingdom terms. As one-kingdom stewards set free, we have hope for the future because our hope is in Christ alone.
Imagine the impact followers of Jesus would have in this day and on this culture if every one of us bore witness to the freedom and joy of faithful stewards, set free from the temptations to be pulled into the sickness of our culture, and set free for the healing of that same culture. That is our calling, and I pray this Lenten season you experience it in all its fulness as God intends for you.