A theology of disruption
From an article by Desiring God
Throughout history we have been used to patterns of disruption. In recent times, disruptive technologies, used to replace or create a new mass market, are a good example. Although there were cars for the rich, the mass produced Ford Model T captured the mass market and eliminated the horse-drawn carriage. Wikipedia has replaced Encyclopaedia Britannica. The High Street retail sector is being pressurised by online retailers, etc. Mobile devices have disrupted markets - music, cameras, diaries being just three.
Similarly, there are lots of examples of disruption in Bible. Just reading through Acts gives one a feel of disruption to individuals, beliefs, economic models, religious systems, culture, etc.
And now with Covid-19, a reset button has been pushed.
The word 'positive' is rarely used to describe disruption, but what if were? How do we think about disruptive change in light of the positive? How does God move through disruption? How does disruption become a spiritual leadership opportunity in the places where we live and work?
Joseph Tenney, music and arts pastor at Church at the Cross, Texas writes about interruption as invitation by God.
Referring to the story of the Good Samaritan, he notes that only the Samaritan was willing to have his day interrupted. He quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and cancelling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks. . . . It is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. They think they are doing God a service in this, but actually they are disdaining God’s 'crooked yet straight path.'"
What if we learned to experience interruption differently? Rather than viewing all outside interruption as the enemy of productivity and creativity, what if we viewed our lives as communicative vessels for the sake of the other? If we open ourselves to embrace a theology of holy interruption, we may usher in newness, revelation, life, and story to inform our work and craft and life in ways that otherwise would simply not be possible.
Bonhoeffer’s point is simple - the Christian’s job is to listen to God and care about what God says above all else, in every moment. True productivity isn’t about tightly controlling ourselves and our calendars, but about unleashing ourselves in love towards others. As Matt Perman observes, “Everything is given to us by God for the purpose of serving others” If we view our work in isolation from others, and a potential interruption must be avoided at all costs, we’re probably functioning out of a wrong motivation and certainly operating under faulty assumptions about the purpose of work.
Bonhoeffer petitions every Christian to stop and allow for interruption — to cultivate a disruption theology, as it were. This benefits both the one doing the interrupting, as well as the person being interrupted because it is in those instances God reveals himself in ways we may never have seen or experienced otherwise. God is erecting visible signs of the cross in our path for our benefit to show us that his kingdom is at hand — to invite us in his work.
Interruption is God’s invitation. God is inviting us to see him all around us, in the lives of others, in our conversations, in our serving those in need. Interruption is not simply a matter of our heart developing patience; it’s about experiencing true life. It is one of God’s ways of waking us up to what’s around us to see there’s more to be done than our self-appointed tasks for the day, as important as they may seem.
Interruption is God's tender way of encouraging his creatures to be a part of the kingdom come.
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