By the time this article is published we will be well into the year 2021. I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed as we enter into this twenty-first year of the 21st century.
As a youngster working my way up through the elementary school grades I always enjoyed Science class. Once I reached the junior high grades our science classes were taught in the school’s laboratory. Each student “station” would seat four students and each station had a sink and a couple of gas outlets for a Bunsen burner. We sometimes even got to conduct experiments or look at various objects through a microscope. That kind of learning was enjoyable to me.
So why am I disappointed? All those science textbooks during those years predicted and promised that life on planet Earth would be much different in the 21st century. Very often the writers would make statements like, “In the 21st century cars will take to the airways in order to relieve traffic congestion on the roadways of our major cities.” Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet. And while “robots” are doing a lot of work in various factories throughout the land, they have not yet replaced everyone. While we can purchase a robot vacuum cleaner we do not yet have “Rosie the robot” to do all our house cleaning and fulfill our every desire for food and comfort (a reference to The Jetsons television cartoon).
So I can’t drive a flying car or have a robot clean my house or walk my dog. But that’s not the “end of the world.” What can I/we do in this new year?
First, we can pray. Pray like we’ve never prayed before (James 5:16). Yes, I know. You already have a very full prayer life, but maybe, just maybe it might be appropriate to change the focus of our prayers. With all the political turmoil happening in recent years and the fear and trepidation produced by the COVID-19 virus it seems that those things have been the focus of a lot of our prayers, and rightly so. We need to pray about those things. But perhaps we also need to pray for ourselves, both for self and for each other. But pray for what?
Pray for peace of mind. With all that has beset us during the past year, much of which continues into the present year, it is certainly understandable that our minds would be very much unsettled. But God desires that we have a settled, peaceful mind and has given us the means to achieve that. Regardless of the political situation the apostle urges us to pray that we may live quiet and peaceable lives (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We may not think so, but that can be accomplished under almost any political system, even one that is antagonistic toward Christianity. Why? How? The “peace that passes all understanding” is not dependent upon external circumstances (cf. Philippians 4:6-8). It is dependent upon our relationship with God. If we are at peace with God external circumstances really don’t matter because “this world is not our home” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Pray for the politicians, whichever party they represent. As mentioned above, as Christians our primary desire is to be left alone so that we may live as the Lord would have us to live (1 Timothy 2:1-4). That doesn’t mean that we will never have to endure trials, tribulations, and persecutions. As long as we are in this life, regardless of the political situation, we will experience such things (John 16:33; Romans 5:3; James 1:2-4).
Another thing that we can do is love one another. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). We may not always agree on every detail, especially when it comes to political viewpoints, but we can still love one another and treat one another with respect (cf. 1 Peter 1:22, 23). After all, have we not been instructed to speak the truth, but even then we are instructed to do so in love (Ephesians 4:15)? Love does no harm to anyone (Romans 13:10). When we disagree we must be very careful that we do not harm one another in our disagreement.
Finally, we can look forward with hope. Hope is the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19, 20). This world is not our home. We look for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). The “things which are seen are temporary” while “the things that are not seen” are permanent (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Let us strive for the permanent.
Much more could, and probably should, be said about some encouraging signs as we head into 2021. Vaccines are being produced and administered. The number of reported cases of COVID-19 is rising but new and better treatments are being devised and developed. Some businesses are being reopened. Different, safer, and sometimes more convenient, ways of obtaining groceries and other necessary items have evolved. There is much for which we should be thankful.
Keep the faith. Encourage and love one another. Rely on God. Exercise good judgment as you make decisions concerning where to go and what to do in this new year.