Our VUCA World

I think we’d all admit that our world has changed—in some cases, almost overnight. If you’ve scrolled on social media, watched the news, seen the latest article, there are all sorts of reactions going around: anger, defiance, panic, denial, frustration.

What about hope?

Does that show up in our reactions? How about on our newsfeeds? What does hope look and sound like?

Does hope mock other people for their worries? Does hope ignore the pain of others? No, of course not.

But really Greg, can hope still be found in this strange new world? Yes, but it requires a different perspective.

It is intellectually dishonest and emotionally unhealthy to deny all that is happening around us. To put a blunter edge to it: There is a distinct difference between denial and faith. The life to which God calls you cannot be lived with eyes scrunched shut and minds closed off. In fact, just the opposite.

We live in a VUCA world.

What’s VUCA? An acronym. You’re familiar with acronyms: YMCA, ICYMI, TMI, TLDR, TCBY.

VUCA is an acronym used by “complexity scientists” and stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

The term has been used since the 1980s and was rediscovered by people in the post 9/11 era. It is being used again in these unprecedented times. And why not? Take your pick of the four words: volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous…Sounds like a pretty accurate description of our world these days.

With this VUCA world changing every few minutes and people contradicting what we just heard someone else say, it’s all a bit overwhelming. Disorienting. Pile on top of that everything else we’re navigating: restrictions of movement and gatherings, online school, working from home, an election, businesses reopening, different health crises, and the list goes on…

It’s easy to understand why some feel stuck, unsure of where to go or what to say.

We will need a way a way of thinking that holds up to the unsteadiness of our times, a way of loving that heals the unkindness of our times, a way of believing that endures the fear of our times. A point of reference that orients us in these disorienting times.

This new way of thinking must be honest, for we will deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. It will require us to pay attention to a very big thought.

Call it your worldview.

Whether we think about it much or not, it is our perception of how things are, how they work, why they work (or don’t work). It’s our take on what matters (and why).

You know what matters? Your worldview.

Why else would Paul stress such a thing in his letter to the Romans?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Do not allow the general drift of this world to pull you off course. What is the general drift of the world these days? Fear.

We are often reminded that “fear not” is mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible. This is for a reason. God knows how susceptible we are to fear in this VUCA world. He reminds us again and again to not be afraid because He knows how it destroys our thinking, saps our strength, and dredges up the ugliest of reactions inside us.

Speaking of ugly reactions..Did you know researchers have studied toddlers’ tantrums? (This may seem ridiculous to parents currently quarantined with or homeschooling young ones.)

But for those of us not within earshot of a little one, kids this age think magically, not logically. They don’t really know how stuff works. They can’t see the bigger picture.

This makes even ordinary events seem confusing, overwhelming, and terrifying to them, according to psychology professor Dr. Gina Mireault. She suggests they don’t understand that the bathtub drain won’t swallow them or that Uncle Joe can’t really snatch their nose off. She concludes, “If you’re not sure whether or not a simple bath will end in your demise, needless to say, you’re going to feel pretty confused and prone to anxiety—on a daily basis.”

What if it wasn’t just toddlers who reacted this way?

Maybe you’ve noticed an uptick in angry outbursts and anxious tantrums from grown ups over the last few months. There is a lot going on in our world that we don’t have all the answers to. We don’t know how everything works. We don’t have comforting explanations and outcomes for all the problems we see.

Our uncertain and uninformed thoughts might lead to a tantrum or two.

Oh, they’ll take different forms than stomping our feet and rolling around on the floor (maybe?). We’ll see loud rants on social media, old hatreds reemerge, generational divides, and even the mistreatment of the people we live with and work with.

But we who follow Jesus have a tremendous chance to resist such ugliness.

There has never been a more pivotal moment in our lifetimes to reflect Christ’s love. This is when the people of God can rise up to the challenge differently. With hope, yes, but also love, courage, gentleness, and faith.

I know, I know, such a sentence is a little too rah-rah for some of you.

Hear me: This is not an exercise in denial. We must see whole truth before us.

The world has indeed changed—right under our feet. But Jesus hasn’t. He is the Eternal One—the same yesterday, today, and forever.

So how do we live this different life? Start with God’s Word.

Dive deeper into the Scriptures and allow God to renew and refresh your thinking. May the words of God be your anchor point.

Live like you believe the world has been invaded by the best life-giving news possible. We need a worldview that is anchored in Jesus, one that stands up to our VUCA world. This is what it means to reflect the love of Christ.

With a renewed mind, you will be able to better distinguish His way in the middle of the chaos. But make no mistake: This will be an intentional choice on your part.

Pay attention to your worldview. It matters, a lot.

And hey, it just might keep you from throwing that next tantrum.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, and right and pure and lovely and admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about those things.

Philippians 4:8

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