We recently had to move out of our house, and I was struck by how much clutter had accumulated throughout our space. I was even more shocked by how little we were aware of it until we had to clean it up, and it was so much harder than anticipated.
I found myself ruminating on this – if only I had been more diligent on staying on top of cleaning our house. But equally, I make excuses on how busy I am and how I just didn’t have time to clean up.
Tendency towards disorder
The world we live in has a tendency towards disorder. I was listening to an apologetics teacher once when he talked about the fall, specifically the curse on Adam:
“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
(Genesis chapter 3, verses 17-19)
The speaker then quipped “And so the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (All ordered systems tend towards disorder/ There will always be waste in any process) was born”. My reflections on that and the mess of my house is that our world tends towards disorder.
If left to its own devices, dust builds up, mess accumulates, conflict and brokenness perpetuates. This all started with Adam and continues to this day. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says “…There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes chapter 1, verse 9).
This curse shows why it takes so much effort and work to keep things clean – just maintenance requires energy, let alone improvement! It is easier to just let things be, let them deteriorate, because we don’t fight against the thorns and thistles present.
If we even try to clean up, or even return the system to its original state (my ordered and clean house), I must fight against the thorns and thistles, I have to sweat and exert effort!
Is it no wonder that Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew chapter 5,verse 9). As I noted above, things tend towards disorder, even relationships!
This is one of the major reasons why unity and peace are defining characteristics of the church. Maintaining unity and peace is a net negative endeavour in effort and energy, which means we’ll just end up tired and burnt out if we proceed on our own strength.
However, this is where the second half of the beatitude comes in – we are not alone in this! God has blessed us with His Holy Spirit and the unimaginable riches at His disposal (including surplus energy, and the Holy Spirit at work in other people too!).
With God with us, we can fight for unity and peace, not at the cost of sweeping things under the rug, but genuinely addressing the issues – all while trusting God to supply what we lack.
Jesus follows the beatitudes with a command to be salt and light. This is a decaying, dying, and broken world. Salt is an agent used to counteract the decay and preserve what is good about the meat in the ancient world.
The lifestyle of one who embodies the beatitudes is one that brings life and preservation into a decaying world. We are such agents in our world today, so let us be salt and work for the good of God and his creation.
So, what now?
So then, friends, what should we do? Let us fight for wholeness, order, peace, righteousness, knowing that these are things on our God’s heart. If He is for them, who can stand against them! (Paraphrase of Romans chapter 8, verse 31).
We know that God will provide all that we need out of his abundant riches in heaven, especially as we align with his heart and fight for what he fights for! (Ephesians chapter 3, verse 16).
I disciple university students in the University of Canterbury through the Navigators while currently working towards a Master of Divinity. Outside of this, my wife and I enjoy rock climbing and going on adventures with our dog.