The One at the Center
Nearly 90 years ago, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats lamented the certainty of chaos in a sin-stained world. In a mystic poem he titled “The Second Coming,” Yeats announced “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
Yeat’s declaration was one of the most-quoted lines of his era. It was both an assertion of fact and a prophecy of the most violent and anarchic century the world has ever known. In a world that lacks a central and organizing belief in a good God, the natural centrifugal force of bodies in motion spins persons, groups, cultures, and societies off into random and violent collisions. “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” Yeats despaired, “and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
But Christians generally and Adventists specifically view life through a vastly different lens. Though we cannot help but agree that the world is going mad with pride, lust, envy, violence—all the so-called “deadly” sins—we affirm that there is a cohesive force at the center of all things that preserves what elements of rationality and goodness are still available in this world. “He (Christ) is before all things,” the apostle Paul wrote in a hymn that only Christ could have inspired, “and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17, NASB).
The simple fact of gathering to worship the risen Lord is a testimony to His cohesive power—in His church and in the wider world. The godly desire we find in our souls to meet with other Christians, to learn from them and pray with them, is a witness to His authority over the otherwise chaotic forces that threaten our peace. The presence of this remnant people in the world—all 15 million of us—as a people of hope and a community of faith reminds a despairing world that we are not destined for a meaningless end. Through the power of the One who holds all things together, including His precious church, we may live with joy and confidence as we wait for the true Second Coming.
We raise this hymn in the night and lostness of a groaning world: In Christ, things hold together. Christ the center holds His people with a great and tender tenacity.