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Disorder and Order

Spiritual renewal is a dangerous thing if it is not coupled with a renewed understanding of order and authority. Spiritual experience and hierarchical authority are often considered antithetical realities. We tend to think that we can have one or the other, either spiritually arid order and government, or highly experiential chaos and disorder. I believe this division between order and experience is the primary reason why historical revivals have not had the type of lasting and dramatic impact they were designed to have in the world. From a biblical perspective, this is the primary reason Paul writes the letter of First Corinthians. The Corinthian believers had very powerful services in which multiple miraculous and prophetic spiritual gifts were in operation. But there was no order there. Paul's intention was not to quell the currents of revival that were washing over that church, but to add order to it so that all things would be done with decency and order. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33). Experience without order is like a drug-induced high. It feels good but it is not productive, and at the end of the day it destroys relationships! So in this blog entry I'd like to discuss the relationship between order and disorder, and in the process clearly define what proper authority in the church should look like.

Let's begin by charting the difference between order and disorder. The following charts should help you understand what the two look like.

Disorder always begins with fear...of not getting your way, of being misunderstood, of being mistreated, of being controlled and of being manipulated. Fear clouds the mind, damages the understanding, and skews the power of the will. 

This is why fear always leads to confusion. Confusion is lack of clarity, lack of certainty and lack of security. Confusion is a state of bewilderment. The confused person knows there's a problem, but can't pinpoint it and therefore can't fix it. Yet, he knows it needs to be fixed, so he frantically tries to fix it, but because he is confused he has misdiagnosed the problem and has therefore prescribed the wrong medicine and the wrong treatment.

Confusion is always coupled with anxiety. Anxiety is a state of worry, nervousness or unease. It manifests as an overwhelming sense of impending trouble; something is about to go wrong! In this sense, anxiety is prophetic because it declares what will happen 'tomorrow at about this time', but it is a hated prophet because it never has anything good to say!

Because confusion and anxiety lead to the attempt to fix the wrong problems, they always lead to division and conflict. When the wrong medicine is prescribed it makes the patient more sick! Conflict is a sense of irreconcilable incompatibility. It is only possible in the presence of unbelief, because conflict is a failure to believe in the reality of oneness. Division polarizes communities into two or more camps; it is a form of civil war. It is 'the act or process of being separated'. Division takes that which is rightfully one and makes it effectively two.

The result of the progression is rebellion, and this is the irony of it all. Once rebellion has set in confusion leaves, anxiety and fear dissipate, and clarity comes! The rebellious man is absolutely sure of the rightness of his position, and so he is bold in the proclamation of his gospel! The only problem is that his gospel contradicts the clear gospel of the house. Now the house will certainly be divided or destroyed, because two different gospels are being preached and the people are torn between one loyalty or another.

Order, on the other hand, begins with obedience. Obedience has nothing to do with faith, understanding, or agreement. Obedience is simply the decision to comply with the desires of another. Obedience says, I'll do it even though I don't necessarily like it, understand it, or agree with it. Obedience primarily involves the actions, rather than the heart or thoughts. The thoughts and heart are involved, but only at the basic level, for the one who obeys simply knows and feels that it is the right thing to do and the best thing for the community.

In submission and trust, the heart is more deeply engaged. Submission is the action of shifting the heart and mind around that which was formerly obeyed. Submission receives instruction not merely as command but as truth. It requires trust because it does not yet necessarily engage the understanding. This is what the disciples were getting at in John 6 when they said, "Lord where would we go? You have the words of eternal life." In other words, we have no understanding of what you are saying, and because we don't yet understand we cannot agree. Yet, we refuse to disagree because we know you and trust you to be one who speaks truth

The next level is agreement. Agreement is mental and emotional harmony; it is a shared perspective. Agreement says not only do I submit and trust, but I understand and perceive at the same level. This manifests itself as a sense of connection, of intimacy and of communion. 

All of this leads to what the bible calls 'unity'. We can also refer to this state as 'oneness'. When we are one, or united, we are completely submitted to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). We now share all things common and none of us claim that anything is his own. In unity all hierarchy and becomes invisible. It is always there, but it becomes virtually unnecessary because it is fully subordinated to love. In this state we are united in action, thought, emotion, desire, and spirit.

Can you imagine what would happen if a powerful revival were coupled with complete order? It would be powerful beyond measure! It would have the power to transform whole cities! It would change both the church and the world! I believe that the Spirit of God is bringing the two together in these last days so that the fruit of revival is no longer lost in the fallout of disorder.


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Author: admin
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  1. Right on PB! So many people think that spiritual renewal and hierarchical authority are mutually incompatible. But without proper structure and biblical/apostolic polity, revivals are short lived and void of reformation.

    Man! It's so scary how you mentioned that once rebellion sets in for a person struggling with anxiety, fear, and confusion,... clarity comes. Ppl in rebellion have such clarity... they refuse to listen to anyone else but themselves.

  2. Absolutely right! That's what makes rebellion such a scary thing! When I am in rebellion I actually believe I am doing God/the Church/the Kingdom of God a favor! I actually feel it is my calling, my duty to do and say what I am doing and saying! This means that rebellion is actually a form of deception, and it leads me to have compassion for individuals in rebellion and believe that God will give them a new clarity, a clarity that brings order and unity!

  3. It's scary when it's not scary anymore. =/

  4. Wow, just wow! loved the part especially about disorder, fear, confusion, anxiety, and division. Its so true!

  5. Thank you P.Benjamin for sharing about this topic. so much clearity on disorder and order I can see that it's getting establised more and more at New philly. Glory!