2021: What We Know
I am getting to the point where I remember spending many New Year’s Days thinking of the events of the previous year and wondering how that year might fit into God’s plan.
Remembering the past is crucial to living in the present—even the moments in the past that were before our existence. Recalling what we know is helpful because it impacts our present and our future. So, consider some of these moments with me:
- In the Beginning—God created the heavens and the earth, and it was good!
- After some time—sin entered the world, as did death by sin—that is not good.
- A.D. 30—the death and resurrection of Jesus changed everything in the world.
- The 1960s—I was a little kid in that decade, and we were in a religiously and theologically conservative family. Our church had a New Year’s Eve service, in which we often heard that the end was near as sin had reached a frenzied high point.
- 2000—I remember Y2K (the New Year of 2000), which had people predicting, with certainty, the end of the world, or at least the end of the world as we knew it.
- 2001—I remember 9/11 as I watched the second bombing of the World Trade Center from a room by my office at College Park Church on 96th and Towne, wondering if Indianapolis was also on the “hit” list.
- 2020—What a year! We experienced COVID; divisions across the political, racial, and religious spectrum; and many other unusually hard times.
Each of you could no doubt add your own memories from this past year, as these are just a few that stand out to me.
Some think the future is unknowable. However, what we know is that we can trust the One who ordained and controls the future. His promises are as certain as the events of history. Here are some truths from an unknown future date that will affect 2021:
- ASAP—The defeat of evil forever (Rev. 20:14): We live in a sin-cursed world. That will be evident in many ways in 2021. A new calendar, a vaccine, more money, or any other effort in the world will not remove that reality. God will remove the curse and defeat all evil. He will make all things right in the future!
- ASAP—The resurrection (1 Thess. 4:16-18): Not only will the Lord defeat evil and do away with the pain and suffering, but he will restore his creation in a new heaven and earth inhabited by resurrected, redeemed image-bearers. As we conclude a year when the death count was tallied daily, death will not win!
- ASAP—The reign of Jesus (Rev. 11:15): This passage says that “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Do you believe that? Though the power of evil seems so strong, he is the ruler. He is stronger. Our King will continue to rule until all his enemies (including evil and death) are defeated. Live today with hope, believing all this to be true.
So how should we understand 2021 as it becomes the “present?” Remember the classic movie “Back to the Future”? Live today believing that the future promises of God are as sure as any event in history. Live in 2021 remembering future promises and stand on what we know. Why? Because what we know is that:
- The biblical truth in Romans 8:28 is still true today. There has never been a year (even among the hardest ones) when the grace and goodness of God were not evident. The cultural context of Romans 8:28 was bleak. The people were suffering. Yet, the sovereign God promised to bring it all together for the good of his people. This promise is still true.
- In 2021, evil will continue. Death, financial challenges, severed relationships, and many other woes will characterize our world. No matter how you interpret the book of Revelation, the reader must admit that the Bible does not sugarcoat the potential of evil. We should expect hard years in this fallen world. Be prepared for them.
- Remembering is crucial. In 1 Corinthians 11:25, Jesus didn’t tell his people to eat bread and drink wine as a way to merely remember an event. It was a memory device. The remembering of Communion allowed them—as it does us—to experience the effect anew. Jesus’s death gives us life in him. So, celebrate the significance of the Lord’s Supper as your daily bread.
- Christ’s Church will not be stopped! The gates of hell will not stop the Church, and neither will COVID, political strife, economic hardships, and many other evils. In 2021 and beyond, we must strive to serve Jesus in unity—living and proclaiming the gospel of grace to a world that struggles to see the past or future with eyes of faith.
Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that your labor (yes—even in 2021) is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).