This is the last Sabbath Thought I’ll post in 2020. Do you know what that means?
…Very little, actually.
It’s easy to make a big deal about that transition from one calendar year to the next. It feels like such a weighty moment—a new year, another 365 days around the sun, another milestone in the history of our lives. And in those ways, it is a big deal. It is a weighty moment—especially when people are ready to be done with a particular year.
Like, say, I don’t know, 2020.
And that’s where the absurdity sets in. We talk about the calendar year as if it’s the one responsible for everything that’s going on—as if this year’s forest fires, COVID-19 pandemic, heightened racial tensions, and deepening political divide are all 2020’s fault. As if, at 12:00 AM on January 1, 2021, the universe is going to stop and say, “Oh no, it’s a new year! Time to let up on the crazy!”
It doesn’t work like that. We know it doesn’t work like that. 2021 doesn’t care what you want because 2021 can’t care what you want. It’s an arbitrary division in our yearly cycle around the sun. It couldn’t change the state of world affairs even if it wanted to. So why do we talk about it like it will? Why do we say we’re “so done with 2020” or “can’t wait for 2020 to be over”?
Forests will still burn in 2021. We’re still going to feel the impact of our global response to the coronavirus in 2021. The worsening relations between blacks and whites will not suddenly improve as we head into 2021. And the vast, vast chasm between those on the right and the left ends of the political spectrum will absolutely not be bridged by hanging a new calendar on the wall.
I’m taking the time to write this increasingly depressing post to make sure that we, as Christians, aren’t looking to 2021 as the Get Out of Jail Free card that it isn’t. The problem with 2020 isn’t the Gregorian calendar. We’re living in a world that has largely rejected God (or else largely misunderstands Him), and what we’re seeing play out on the world scene is very much a reflection of that. Unless the world starts seeing God in a very different light between 11:59 PM on December 31, 2020 and 12:00 AM on January 1, 2021, I don’t think we can count on 2021 to bring any significant improvements to the state of the world. I think we should instead be expecting another verse of the same song the human race has been singing for 6,000 or so years.
There’s one thing that should change in 2021.
Not because it’s 2021, but because God’s people are called to constantly be examining (and re-examining) ourselves. What do we believe? Why do we believe it? And are we putting it into practice? This year’s news items have given us plenty opportunities to ask ourselves, “How does God view this situation? How would Jesus respond to it if He were here? Am I reacting to this with my human nature, or am I taking the time to analyze things from a Godly perspective? How should mercy, justice, faith, patience, righteousness, and love change how I approach this?”
I suspect next year will present us with even more opportunities to ask those questions. Let’s make it our goal to go into 2021 answering those questions with increasing scrutiny and honesty.
2021 doesn’t care what you want. But God cares what you’ll do with 2021.
Let’s make Him proud.
Until next time,