The Key to Serenity in a Chaotic Culture

Jim Denison | Denison Forum | Tuesday, January 29, 2019
The Key to Serenity in a Chaotic Culture

The Key to Serenity in a Chaotic Culture

Did you hear about the Pennsylvania man who has a registered emotional support alligator?

Joie Henney says his pet, Wally, likes to give hugs. Henney told reporters that his doctor gave him approval to use the five-foot-long alligator for emotional support rather than go on medication for depression. He frequently takes Wally to senior centers and minor-league baseball games. “He’s just like a dog,” he told a woman recently. “He wants to be loved and petted.”

When I read about Wally, I thought of an Indonesian woman who was keeping Merry, a fourteen-foot crocodile, as a pet. Earlier this month, she was killed and partially eaten by the animal.

There’s an old story about a scorpion and a frog who met on the bank of a stream. The scorpion asked the frog to carry him across the water on its back.

The frog asked, “How do I know you won’t sting me?”

The scorpion said, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog was satisfied, and the two set out across the water. Midstream, the scorpion stung the frog.

As the frog started to sink, knowing they would both drown, it gasped, “Why?”

The scorpion replied: “It’s my nature.”

The danger of euphemisms

Renaming reality doesn’t change reality.

What proponents call the “sexual revolution,” the Bible calls “sin.” Mary Eberstadt documents the devastation of this “revolution” for women, families, the elderly, and victims of pornography and sexually transmitted disease.

“Death with dignity” is still death. The “product of conception” is how Planned Parenthood describes a baby in its mother’s womb. What Nazi Germany called the “Final Solution,” we call the “Holocaust.” (Israelis call it the “Shoah,” meaning catastrophe.)

Euphemisms are useful in anesthetizing us to reality. But when the patient wakes up, the pain returns.

Every four years, the Director of National Intelligence produces a document called the National Intelligence Strategy. The Washington Post lists these warnings among the “10 biggest truth bombs” from the report:

  • “Advances in nano- and bio-technologies . . . have the potential to pose significant threats to U.S. interests and security.”
  • “Despite growing awareness of cyber threats and improving cyber defenses, nearly all information, communication networks, and systems will be at risk for years to come.”
  • “Many adversaries continue to pursue capabilities to inflict catastrophic damage to U.S. interests through the acquisition and use of [weapons of mass destruction].”

Just because we don’t see danger coming makes it no less dangerous. The opposite is more often the case.

How long was 9/11 planned?

In Esther 3, we read of Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to Haman (v. 5) and the latter’s vengeful plan to “destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai” as a result (v. 6). But Haman did not act immediately.

In fact, it was several years before he was ready to hatch his plot (comparing Esther 2:16 and 3:7). All this time, Queen Esther and her people lived in what they thought was relative safety in Persia.

The Jewish authorities’ plan to execute Jesus was a private plot before it became a public strategy (John 11:53). The disciples had no idea Judas had agreed to betray Jesus before he did (John 13:21-30).

Admiral Yamamoto proposed the idea of bombing Pearl Harbor eleven months before the raid took place. The mastermind of 9/11 presented his plan to Osama bin Laden five years before the attacks.

How did Darwin affect religion?

One of the deceptions of living in the Information Age is the myth that we have all the information we need. News and data stream to our devices constantly. We know more about what’s happening when it happens than ever before.

Such “digital omniscience” can be a great tool for accountability and transparency. But it can also be a great temptation toward secularist self-sufficiency.

The publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 led to a decline in religious commitment for many who believed that science had preempted a need for the Bible and faith. Similarly, increased Internet use has been linked to a decline in religious affiliation. The more we know, the less we think we need to know.

But the Internet did not predict the assault that injured five police officers in Houston yesterday afternoon; two remain in critical condition. Or the tornado that struck Havana Sunday night, killing four people and injuring 195. Or the hotel collapse in Peru that killed fifteen during a wedding celebration. Or the shootout in Mexico that killed twelve people.

How to find “the peace of God”

In a world with God-given free will (cf. James 1:13-16), the future is impossible, by definition, to predict. We simply cannot know what humans will choose to do or the consequences of their choices.

However, God is not bound by time as we are. He sees the “future” as we see the “present.” The fact that he sees what we choose to do does not mean that he makes our choices for us, any more than a teacher who watches her students choose seats in a classroom assigns their seats to them.

But our Father’s timeless omniscience does mean that he can “make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:10 NIV). It means he can lead us “in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). It means we can trust what we don’t know about tomorrow to the God who loves us today.

Our “progressive” culture has progressed further from God than ever before. It’s therefore not surprising that so many lack his peace. That’s why Christians need to claim “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Would you pray right now for the opportunity to share his peace with someone today?

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Publication Date: January 29, 2019

Photo Courtesy: Kyaw Tun/Unsplash

The Key to Serenity in a Chaotic Culture