Is it possible to stay on mission during chaotic times? Apparently so, according to Jesus. One of the most chaotic times for early believers was the interlude between the crucifixion and the ascension. The disciples were confused and terrified (John 20:19). They were facing religious and secular opposition. Some of them went into hiding (John 20:19, 26) behind locked doors.
In this context, Jesus had a definite message for his followers. He told them three times, “Peace be with you.” Jesus spoke peace in the midst of chaos. Notice he did not immediately deliver them from their circumstances. He gave them peace in the midst of their challenges.
Triads or tri-fold experiences in the Bible are used to underscore the importance of an issue, story, or principle. The most bedrock to our faith is the Trinitarian formula—Father, Son, Spirit. But there are other famous threes—Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times, three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection, etc. The three-fold affirmation of peace (John 20:19, 21, 26) in the midst of chaos is instructive. Jesus is drawing a huge underline on what he is communicating. Peace is possible in chaos.
But what is also intriguing is the additional statement Jesus attached to the middle of the three peace statements in John 20. While the first and third peace statements stand alone, Jesus adds something to the middle statement. He said, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). This is John’s version of the Great Commission. In the midst of chaos, while his followers were fearfully hiding, Jesus sent them on mission.
We need to heed this message today—in churches and in our denomination. We are facing cultural opposition and denominational turmoil. It is tempting to cower in fear of the culture and become preoccupied with organizational reform. Neither serves our mission. We must remain focused on the assignments Jesus has given us—particularly in churches—and not allow chaotic circumstances to define daily activities. We must certainly not use chaos as an excuse to quit!
The healthiest churches and Christian organizations right now are not complaining about pandemic distractions, economic uncertainties, political squabbles, and social disruptions. They are refocused on gospel-sharing, disciple-making, care-giving, and other core activities of fulfilling the Great Commission. We are doing this and will continue to focus on our mission at Gateway. We are shaping leaders who advance God’s kingdom around the world. Period—full stop. Like most churches and organizations, we are buffeted by storms around us—but they do not define our mission or distract us from mission-centric efforts.
Peace in the midst of chaos is possible. Mission advance in the midst of chaos is mandated. Jesus said so. Let’s make it so.
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