What Will Be Different?
For the last month I have heard (and said myself ) countless times that I'm ready for 2020 to be over. This past year has been filled with death, heartbreak, job loss, chaos, and uncertainty. I think we all would say amen to the wishes of Happy New Year. But does the turning over of the calendar really mean change? Does all the anticipation of 2021 actually mean the virus goes away, the economy comes back, and people start loving each other better? I saw a quote on New Years Eve that captured my heart.
"There is no power in the clock tonight. If the heart is wrong at 11:59 it'll be wrong at 12:01. Only the power of God can change a persons heart..."
This is such a good reminder that change doesn't come with a new year, it comes by the power of the gospel in the human heart. If we have no plans or desires to change personally and corporately to honor the Lord, 2021 will be the sequel of 2020. What will be different about this year than last year? What will we do differently, to encounter the Lord Jesus differently, so that something different happens in our lives? Of course, we know that it's possible our circumstances don't change, but our hope as Christians should be that God would change us in our circumstances.
I have made up my mind over the next few weeks to try and turn conversions about the New Year towards the gospel by asking people, "What will be different?" When someone says excitedly, "I'm so glad 2020 is behind us", we can ask, "What do you hope will be different about this year?" Or "How do you plan to make this year different than last?" This will open up a very thoughtful dialogue and prayerfully give us the opportunity to share the difference-making gospel of Jesus. People are looking for hope, and we have it. People are looking for light and truth, we have them. People are wanting something to lift them from the brokenness that we experienced so deeply last year, and we have that in Jesus. After asking what they hope will be different, we could share that our only hope is that Jesus Christ is making all things new. Because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we have a hope that is unshakable and transforming us as we wait for it to arrive in full. Our hope, king Jesus, said this -
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
-John 16:33 ESV
Because he has died and resurrected, we can take heart. We can take heart that our sins are forgiven and that He will bring ultimate victory into this broken world. The Christian Hope also tells us this.
"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
-2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
That means the more we are in the presence of our resurrected hope (Jesus), he is changing us (we are becoming different.) Through our hope we can have different perspectives and attitudes. Through our hope we can have different endurance. Through our hope we can have different patience, joy, and kindness. Through our hope we can respond differently to adversity. Through our hope we can offer different service to the world around us and be the change we want to see.
Many people over the next few weeks are going to say something to you in regards to hoping for better things in 2021. Use that as an opportunity to share Jesus and invite them to know and follow Him with you. Giving your life over to a new hope is the only way that any change is going to come in our lives.
I challenge you to ask yourself, "What will be different about 2021?" After you have considered that, be intentional to use the New Year anticipation to share the hope that is in you.
Grace & Peace, Scott Long
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