For the most part, a sigh of relief can be heard across the world now that 2021 is finally here. I heard a radio host the other day say, “well, 2021 is finally here, a step in a better direction”.
I understand why we’re expecting this next year to be better, I mean, how could it not be? But the realist in me also doesn’t want to just blindly receive this optimism. At the end of the day, how do we know 2021 isn’t going to be worse than 2020?
If you were expecting some sort of encouragement from this blog, trust me, it’s coming! I have no idea what 2021 is going to look like, but my hope for Christians heading into this new year is this–that we don’t get so paralyzed and distracted by what’s happening around us that we forget about the clear mission that Jesus has given us.
I think it was easy for so many of us in 2020 to feel that the mission of God had changed because of how unexpected the year turned out to be. The mistake being that we had expectations in the first place. So, when our expectations weren't met, the uncertainty paralyzed us and forced us to look up to God with confusion and angst.
This very confusion stemming from unmet expectations is whatChristians need to avoid heading into the new year. Which is why statements like “2021 is going to be so much better” can be damaging. I suggest that the only expectation we have heading into the new year is to not have expectations.
In Matthew chapter 14, verses 22-36, we see Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee in front of his disciples. In verse 29 Jesus tells Peter to step out onto the water and Peter obeys faithfully. That is until he get s scared of the wind, takes his eyes off Jesus, and starts to drown (so close Peter, so close).
So what was the problem? Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and what Jesus had asked him to do, and instead focused on the circumstances around him. Of course he didn’t expect the wind, so when it picked up he freaked out and lost faith.
As Christians, Jesus has given us a clear mission to love Him, love others, and to make disciples of all nations. This is what he has asked us to do. But in 2020, I think so many of us took our eyes off of Jesus and his commands because we weren’t expecting the wind (the fires, pandemic, injustice, political division).
But as Christians, the circumstances surrounding us in life shouldn’t be powerful enough to change the mission of God. And they shouldn’t be powerful enough to take our eyes off Jesus. No matter what the year 2021looks like - if it’s worse than 2020, the same as 2020, or perhaps better than2020 - as long as we don’t take our eyes off of Jesus and the mission given to us from him, we don’t need to sink.
What does this look like? Well, if quarantine continues, if you’re still not able to spend time in person with your friends, if you still don’t feel that justice is being accomplished politically - remember Matthew 14verses 22-36. After Peter begins to sink, he does what we should all do in times of uncertainty and crisis. He cries out to Jesus and says, “Lord, save me!”. And immediately after this, they get back in the boat and the wind dies down.
In that moment, Peter and the disciples were reminded of how powerful and in control Jesus truly was. Jesus wasn’t freaked out about the wind and he’s not going to be freaked out about anything that happens this year.So when the unexpected does come in 2021, we should cry out to the Lord and find comfort in his power and control.
Here’s the happy blog post ending you’ve been waiting for! All around the world people are trying to have hopeful anticipation for the new year. Most of it is just wishful thinking, but there’s one group of people in particular that have reason to be hopeful.
Those who follow Christ should be hopeful about the new year because we know that no matter how it looks circumstantially, the mission of God hasn’t changed. The church is God’s plan-A for the world. What we need to do is step out onto the proverbial waters of 2021 and keep our eyes on Jesus no matter how windy and hectic it gets. This is my hope for Christians in 2021.