then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. they seized paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. and as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all jerusalem was in confusion. he at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. and when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating paul. then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. he inquired who he was and what he had done. some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. and as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. and when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “away with him!” [acts 21:30-36]


the chaos of sin.


the accusations have been mounting and the pressure is building–paul is taken by force and beaten mercilessly-he has not had a trial or even a legitimate witness to his supposed crimes, and yet the mob is stirred into a frenzy, just as they were at Jesus’ crucifixion–they want blood. we see this kind of behavior and look down our noses at it, but we are too often taken up in the same madness when we participate in the crowd madness of gossip, social media and the 24-hour news cycle–we are quick to see people as heroes or villains and quick to condemn without a hearing. 


Oh that we would heed the words of james:


know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [james 1:19-20]


we should be slow to involve ourselves in these kind of mob situations, either in person or virtually–and why do we do it? maybe we just want to be entertained, or feel that by being part of the argument, the fight, that we have meaning, a cause and an identity.  we need to remember that our identity is in Jesus Christ, this world is passing away, and we don’t need to find our meaning in a cause outside of him–

for God is not a God of confusion but of peace. [1 corinthians 14:33]


in this context, paul is referring to church order, not necessarily civil order, but it underlines the idea that God is not about destruction, mob mentality, impatient chaos and tearing apart–remember–


in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. [genesis 1:1-2]


God brings order to chaos, it is sin that causes chaos–without sin in this world, everything would be in its place, everything would be as it should be. 


in Judges 6:24, one of God’s names is “Yahweh Shalom–the LORD is our peace”


and Jesus, in his death, made peace with his enemies–us!


for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.[colossians 3:19-20]


he is the Prince of Peace! [isaiah 9:6]


we, in Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, are called by Jesus to be agents of God’s peace: 


blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. [matthew 5:9]


this is who we are brothers and sisters in Christ–this is our identity, let us strive to enter through the narrow gate, let us strive against the chaos, confusion and sin of this world to bring clarity and peace, to point to Jesus as King over all things!