“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
As I look forward to the New Year, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand I am ready for an exiting year of growth despite the challenges we may face, but on the other hand I am concerned about the condition of our world. Part of me, the new man that I am in Christ, is rejoicing in the hope of glory in the coming year, while another part of me, the flesh, is filled with resentment, despair, and anxiety. Yes, I realize this makes me somewhat schizophrenic from a clinical perspective, but it really just means that I am a Christian fighting my own flesh while living in a sin cursed world.
As I face the threats of 2021, I have a choice to make within the context of God’s sovereignty. I can choose to enter 2021 in faith, or I can choose to live the natural lifestyle of fear. While this choice may not make any real difference in what is going to happen in the next year, it will dramatically affect my attitude. Exercising faith in God’s Word I can be assured of some amazing promises regardless of what lies ahead in the New Year. I can be sure that I am–and will be–personally secure in God’s love and significant in God’s eternal plan no matter what happens. In faith I can see the end of all trials at the beginning and know I cannot lose. Faith in who I am [in Christ] guarantees that all things will work together for my good in 2021! [Romans 8:28]
Entering the New Year in the natural lifestyle of fear is a radically different story. Rather than hope, we might be able to muster a little wishful thinking but endure an underlying dread of the worst-case scenario. We are afraid we will lose our money and all the satisfaction that it brings us. We are afraid we will lose our health and must face our own mortality. Such fears create a morbid dread of 2021 at best, and a pervasive sense of gloom and doom at worst. In addition to becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, our natural fears may even produce a variety of psychosomatic illnesses consuming most of our time, energy, and money.
The personal benefits of entering in to 2021 in faith are just the beginning…the genuine hope that comes from believing produces many more. In addition to the endurance of various trials we may face, hope gives us a sense of confidence in all that we do and speak. Having the experience of being tried and found approved we are confident in the other decisions we must make daily. From the simple choices of our everyday lives to the life-altering decisions we sometimes must make; we can do so without the paralyzing anxiety so common to the natural lifestyle. Reliance upon the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God we can be at peace even under extreme circumstances. We can truly know the “peace that passes all understanding”, the peace of God, Himself [Phil 4:6,7].
Faith and hope free us to actually think about and love others around us. When I feel secure in God’s love and significant in His plan for my life, I have a joyful, confident expectation about my future. Knowing that my needs are–and will be–met, frees me up to be able to care about others. As we enter 2021 in faith, the hope that sustains us personally will also allow us to fulfill our high calling of God to love others like Christ. Regardless of the coming events of this New Year our purpose here remains the same…love others like Christ. Authentic faith will, in fact, always work itself out in love for others. No matter what we may face in 2021 we can be sure that we will have the opportunity to love others in a variety of ways. Despite the daily struggle with the flesh, I am going to believe who God has made me to be in Christ so that I can live and love like Him [and through Him] in 2021. I choose to trust His indwelling Spirit to set me free each day to continue loving others. I hope you will join me.
Happy New Year!
Used with permission of Alpha Ministries in Okeechobee, Florida. www.alphaministries.org . John Glenn is the author of The Alpha Course book and video series.
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