But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18–19 NLT)
In arguably his most famous poem, “The Second Coming,” W. B. Yeats describes a world torn asunder by chaos, confusion, and lack of morality: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Writing in the aftermath of the Great War, Yeats saw a world that professed to be centered around morality and righteousness but that quickly devolved into darkness, nightmare, and suffering. By the poem’s conclusion, Yeats seems to be saying that nothing can right this upended ship, not even the Savior who was born in Bethlehem.
It is true that entropy – one of the core characteristics of our world that states everything ultimately falls apart – is a strong force. Whether we’re talking about the natural world or human constructs, the physical or the immaterial, all things break, and nothing lasts forever. We can fight the tide all we want, but the shore will continue to erode. Given enough time, we, too, will fall prey to entropy’s unyielding grasp. This is the bleak, nihilistic conclusion Yeats came to in his poem. Yet this pessimism completely underestimates the redemptive and restorative power of Jesus.
The Word was in the beginning and through whom everything was made. He designed, forged, and crafted our universe, so it is no difficult task for him to “make a pathway through the wilderness” or “create rivers in the dry wasteland.” He is master over all creation, able to calm the raging storm and mend the broken-hearted. If entropy is everything falling apart, shalom is everything made whole, and Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Shalom).
As the Prince of Shalom, Jesus invites us to join him in breaking through the anarchy loosed on the world by acting as his agents, his ambassadors. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:18–20 that we are Christ’s ambassadors, tasked with a message of reconciliation. We are therefore invited by the Light of the world to take part in his work pushing back the darkness.
How can you serve as an agent of shalom during this season? Seek out places where you see entropy running loose – a broken relationship, a soul far from God, a neighbor’s snow-covered driveway, trash strewn across the park – and find ways, with Christ as your guide, to spread a message of reconciliation and peace.