A Simple Question in a Complicated Age
This is my final blog for 2020. What can we say about it all?
It would be tempting to do a retrospective of the year and try to reflect on it all, but our experiences are so varied that does not seem a helpful route. We could also throw a shovel of dirt on it, say last rites and walk away glad the whole thing is over, but that does not reflect our conviction that God was at work through, even in, the chaos.
Perhaps a better use of this blog is to look ahead, to plot a course and suggest a way forward that will be better than what we leave behind. Yet again we run the risk of losing the importance of this moment.
It’s December 29, 2020. In resisting the temptation to reflect on the past or prognosticate about the future, I am reminded of a simple saying I heard long ago, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.”
So I will end 2020 with this simple question, “Where are you, right now, with Jesus Christ?” When the disciples pushed Jesus to answer the ultimate discipleship question, He responded in the simplest of terms. Here’s the exchange in John 6:26-35.
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
That’s it? That’s it. Everything else flows from there. It seems like a missed opportunity to use this blog at this most unique moment in history to make such a simple point. But perhaps that’s just the point. We are followers of Jesus called to navigate through some of the most difficult and uncharted waters we have ever faced. Perhaps the best thing we can do on a late day in December is to ask ourselves, “What do we really believe?” or more pointedly, “In whom do we really believe?”
If we follow Jesus’ simple command in John 6 with His chilling question in Luke 18: 7-8 we might have a picture of what is required of leaders at this moment in history.
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
The persistent widow’s faith was rewarded. She refused to doubt, to give up, to just accept the injustice that she was experiencing. So, she “prayed” unceasingly, relentlessly and faithfully. As Jesus tells her story, He asks us about ours. Will Jesus find such faith among those who call Him Lord? Did He find it in us in 2020? Will He find it in us in 2021?
Most importantly, does He find it in us today? Right now? That is our challenge as followers of Jesus. Those around us may be caught up in looking back and looking ahead. The way behind us is littered with questions and confusion. The way forward seems like peering through a fog of uncertainty on so many levels. To navigate through will require keen discernment, skillful leadership and the wise stewarding of all the resources God provides for our use.
But more than these, 2021 will require faith built through prayer. No one else can do that for us. It is our responsibility, our command, our calling and our supreme privilege. My appeal is that we start today, this day that seems to hang in the air between a chaotic year that is passing and an enigmatic year that lies ahead.
What will God require of us as leaders, spouses, parents, colleagues, and the many other roles we will play in 2021? Well, many things. But all of them will be founded on one unequivocal foundation – that we believe, really believe, in Him.
What will success then look like for us in 2021? Perhaps one year from today it will be found in our answer to the question, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
In us? In you? May it be so.
Happy New Year.
 This quotation has been attributed to many people including Ralph Waldo Emerson. For more on the author of the quote see, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/01/11/what-lies-within/