Complexity, Trust...& the Devil?



Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on how complex the world—and human nature—is.


And why that makes leadership a very challenging work. But first consider this: due to the complexities of human nature and interactive free will, God must be very, very clever to somehow take all of this somewhere…to a finished objective. A goal. As followers of Jesus, we believe—perhaps we have to believe—that God is ultimately building toward a preferred future. And so we partner with Him. But this is where trust must kick in. For example, think about how convoluted and intricate the global economy is. Inflation in one corner of the world can create a rift in the economy of the whole planet with interdependent monetary systems. Then for fun throw in cryptocurrencies, add in the powerful emerging Chinese market, and just to make it interesting, include a single microscopic virus that’s 100,000 times smaller than a grain of salt with the capacity to shut down the economies of the entire planet. Sheesh. Global economics get terrifically complicated. But compare those extremely complex world economies with human beings and all our idiosyncrasies, brokenness, wounds, dysfunctions, sins, and genetically-whacked out systems. How much more complicated is managing humanity…and leading it toward a vision for the universe? You think you could build a better system?—get a grip. But wait—there’s more! Throw a devil in and it gets even more squirrelly. I can feel some of you squirming with that. Perhaps some of us leaders need to develop an apologetic for personified evil; I’ll admit that’s a tough one. But for the Church, the best apologetic is simply the way Jesus talked about Satan. Jesus was either terrifically confused, or not who He said He was, or the writers just slipped in that “cosmic conflict stuff” when no one was looking. According to the record, the idea of a rebellious war being waged by malevolent spiritual forces was a part of Jesus’ vocabulary. His followers picked this up as well. The apostle John, who was in Jesus’ inner circle since he was in his twenties, wrote in his old age decades later that:


The Son of God came for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s work.

(1 John 3:8b NCV)


In other words, at that time it was still a foundational part of Christianity that Satan, and therefore spiritual conflict, was a factor in all the confusion, pain and suffering of this planet. That doesn’t solve the philosophical quandary of evil; as a matter of fact, it makes it somewhat trickier. But of all the proposed theories for the problem of pain, this is the best I’ve heard. Especially when I consider the Messenger. But all of the above is to simply say this: Life is complex. Therefore, trust is critical—a simple trust that God is really in control and taking all of this somewhere. So while we peddle the gospel of hope, personal transformation, and prophetically call out injustice and cry for shalom, we ultimately believe that God is still somehow in charge. Leaders have to embody that, teach it, and lead in the middle of complicated, troubling times. And without that simple trust, you’ll otherwise burn out. Dave Workman | ELEMENTAL CHURCHES