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4 entities in modern culture that can push back chaos (part 5)

Unsplash/John-Mark Smith
Unsplash/John-Mark Smith

“Caution: Five kilometers to border.”

The sign near Hof, Germany, was chilling the first time I encountered it. Hof, in the 1960 Cold War era, was a West German town near the border between free West Germany and Communist-controlled East Germany.

The “Five K Zone” was near the no-man’s land separating the two, demarking the edge, not just of towns, but of two civilizations. Persons with military tags could be in much trouble if they ignored the warnings. I had a civilian tag, and the danger was not as great — yet it was there, especially if I ignored the addendum to many of the warning signs: DO NOT PROCEED WITHOUT AUTHORITY.

I was a young pastor of an English-language church in Nuremberg who was asked to drive to Hof to preach in a sister church there. One of the first cautions the soldiers in Nuremberg had given me was to beware of the Five-K Zone.

Boundaries are established by authority, and to violate them leads to an encounter with a barricade, with the power to stop interlopers who dare violate the authority.

In this series, we have focused on the fact that in our present world, chaos is pushing hard against the boundaries of civilization. Humanity seems to hurtle deep into the spiritual “5-K Zone.”

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There was much comfort in the 1960s when we passed by the Five-K warning signs knowing that “our side” had tanks and stationary weapons authorized to defend the boundary between East and West.

But who or what has both the authorization in our era of spiritual warfare and the power to use it? Boundaries are set by authority, while barricades are points of power to enforce adherence to the authorized boundaries.

There are crucial differences between authority and raw power:

  • Raw power is seized by sheer muscle, but authority is granted from higher to lower.
  • Anyone strong enough can grab raw power, but true authority is granted only to those who are under authority.
  • Raw power is sustained through domination, in the form of condemnation, manipulation, and intimidation while true authority sustains itself through healthy relationships and servanthood.

A great question in our stage of the human experience is this: Who has both the authority and power to push back against the encroachment of chaos?

I suggest here four entities in modern culture that can effectively provide the push-back against the assaults of chaos:

1. The biblically-founded Church

The biblical churchstrongly grounded in sound doctrine. It is not exclusionary in its vision and ministry. It does not try to take over what has not been given to it by Christ and His commission to His followers to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom and make disciples.

The biblical churchhas been placed in the world as the body of Christ to continue His incarnate ministry. It has gone to the cross in and through Him. It does what Jesus did in His body two thousand years ago as revealed in the Scriptures: He interceded for the broken world and the people in it; He worshipped the Father continually; He proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom; He served human need in the Name of the Father.

2. The biblically structured family

Such a household makes practical application of transcendence and immanence. In the ideal the mother ministers immanence in existential ways, she provides mother-love and has depths of insight and sensitivity that the male doesn’t always understand. In the biblical order, the father is to provide a loving example of stabilizing strength and security. If the father defaults to this, the function devolves to the godly mother.

The ideal is a home in which both husband and wife serve through the spiritual gifts bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, and the natural talents and skills that apply those gifts for the good of the home and its occupants.

3. Biblically founded education

Psalm 78 presents educational ideals for a biblical home.

In that passage schooling is a function of the home through both parents. In contemporary culture, there are differences of opinion about who is responsible for the education of children. But even where parents choose or are forced into public schools, the home must be the final authority. This means parents are to know what is being taught in the schools their children attend, who is teaching them, and be responsible for speaking out when non-biblical ideas are taught, and where chaos enters into the educational system.

4. Biblically formed governance

Government in God’s design serves as a minister of God enforcing law, implementing justice, and avenging evil (Romans 13).

Stable, trustworthy government functions through God-given authority, not the raw power noted above.

As ancient Rome and thousands of strong-man systems have shown, there is chaotic oppression and conflict in societies whose politicians believe they are “god” rather than understanding there is real God to whom they must ultimately give an account, as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13.

Citizens are to submit to God’s authority, and when governments step out from under such biblical principles, they are subject to replacement by the people.

This, and perhaps all the principles that enable the push-back essential for survival in a chaos world may seem unworkable. Some readers may consider them naïve and too idealistic.

Long ago, David, a man of government, pondered the crises of his day, and asked: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Immediately King David experienced the vision of God’s transcendence (Psalm 11:3-4).

The Prophet Habakkuk has a similar vision and provides another answer to what the righteous can do: “Let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

Truly, it’s time to listen to the Lord, recognizing the hope that is in Him, including the way out of the spiritual, social, and cultural “Five-K Zone” where chaos squeezes hard.

Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest  book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming  spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.

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