What is the kingdom response to turmoil?

When looking at difficult situations, it’s important to get things into perspective, writes Director of Training Dave Newton

Remember back to 1999 and the turn of the new millennium? All the fear that surrounded the then-named ‘millennium bug’. What was going to happen as the clocks struck midnight into the year 2000?

Was every computer in the world going to fail? Would people be trapped in lifts between floors? Would life-support machines in our hospitals fail? Or would it simply be a time of celebration followed by just another year?

Twenty years later (as I write this) Great Britain and Northern Ireland confront the reality of leaving the European Union, and broadcasters have voiced similar concerns about empty supermarket shelves, lack of global trade agreements and, depending which newspaper you read, a somewhat dystopian future.

Staying away from politics, prophecies and predictions, however; what do we do when personal disaster suddenly strikes? This week my family has seen a measure of this; as we were minding our own business, enjoying a half-term at home, a burst pipe in the bathroom decided to shower hot water all over our house.

OK, it wasn’t exactly a disaster, but it was certainly an inconvenience as we saw the ceiling collapse and we had to be relocated for a time so Boeing-sized fans could be installed to dry the house before the repair work could be started.

You have to smile at these moments because, in reality, it is a minor nuisance compared to what many individuals, communities or even nations face when real disasters hit. It has been said that happiness is when the happenings that are happening in your life are happening in the way you want them to happen!

For many, the circumstances of debt, broken relationships, long term illness or poverty certainly aren’t the happenings they would have chosen.

So how should we respond as Christ followers? What does a kingdom response look like in the midst of turmoil?

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Colossians that it is easy to revert to attitudes and behaviours that used to be present before we knew Jesus. We pick up bitterness, jealousy and unforgiveness; we clothe ourselves in what has seemed to be comfortable for so long.

But Paul urges the believers in Colossae to put off the old way of living and develop a spirit of thankfulness. He suggests there are new garments that we can pull out of God’s Kingdom wardrobe that really represent him in the challenging circumstances of life.

He writes, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” (Colossians 3:12).

These qualities are often those we expect from others in moments of crisis or difficulty, yet Paul urges the believers not just to demonstrate these qualities but to wear them, to allow them to shape who you are – a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may recall that Paul himself was writing these words from prison, having faced his fair share of suffering.

I wonder how you have responded recently when faced with hardship, challenges or the difficulties that everyday life brings. What clothes have you drawn out of the wardrobe? When the happenings of your life aren’t happening the way you want them to, remember we have an opportunity in the midst of those circumstances to represent Jesus to others. Our actions and reactions really do matter!

Finally, remember to get your difficulties into perspective in the light of the challenges many others face across the street or around the world. Perhaps as we demonstrate kindness, compassion, gentleness and patience to others we will get a different view of our reality.

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