Perspective on 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic and global shutdown began to unfold in early 2020, I was already hearing people say they couldn’t wait for 2020 to be over. When April Fool’s Day rolled around, one publication reported a general sense that the entire year of 2020 has turned out to be a joke and everyone is the fool. Then May brought the tragic, unjust and racially motivated death of George Floyd, sparking protests and riots across America that have spread all over the world. As we begin the final quarter of the year, election season is upon us and will no doubt incite further national division and scathing political commentary, with potentially global implications.

With physical, emotional, economic and political upheaval around the world, there’s been much talk amongst Christians about the end times and the return of Christ

Long before 2020 began, however, many Christians were talking about revival, and those conversations are intensifying. Revival is defined as restoration to bodily or mental vigor, or to life or consciousness. In terms of spiritual revival, the desire is for God to renew, reinvigorate and re-ignite His people to live in the fullness of His life and lead others to Him.

So how do we know if we really need revival? And if we do, how can we discern our spiritual state as an individual and as a body of believers? For my part, I think God wants to use the events of 2020 to show us the depth of our need and to hunger more for His presence. If we are paying attention, the trials and challenges of this year can show us how we’re doing spiritually in two key areas of our lives—loving God and loving one another. These areas coincide with what Jesus called the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-39):

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

As we’ve faced the threats of an invisible and deadly illness that has stolen lives and livelihoods, we’ve  been challenged in our faith and personal commitment to the Lord. Our perseverance and endurance is tested as the pandemic and its economic consequences continue. When circumstances become difficult, is God still the center of our lives? How much do we trust Him? Are we willing to love, worship and honor Him no matter what happens?

As we’ve refocused on the reality of racism, prejudice and bias both inside and outside of the Church, we’ve been challenged to look at our relationships and the way we view others. Do we really love one another? How do we think about, speak to and treat people of other races, denominations, or political views? Are we willing to put others first and see them through God’s eyes?

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another” (John 13:35, AMP).

There are a lot of grieving, anxious and angry people in the world right now with no true source of hope. We should do our best to help others and attempt to bridge that which divides us. But deep, heart-level change and healing can only come from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As believers, how can we truly make a difference in society—people’s lives—if we are not anchored individually and united spiritually in Christ?

2020 couldn’t be a better year for followers of Christ to clothe ourselves with repentance and humility to seek God together for revival. Lord, let it begin with me.

Resources

Below are just a few of the resources that have encouraged, stirred or convicted my heart in 2020.

Peace In, Peace Out – Sermon series on Psalm 23 by Pastor Dale O’Shields, Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg, MD

Tony Evans and Kirk Franklin Talk About Race in the Church – TBN

Pentecost Sunday  – Pastor Alex Seeley, The Belonging Co in Nashville, TN

A Promise Keeping God – Pastor Alex Seeley, The Belonging Co in Nashville, TN

Coffee with Kong featuring A.R. Bernard – Interview of the Brooklyn pastor by Kong Hee, pastor of City Harvest Church in Singapore (interview begins at 17:40)

Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy (Psalm 23) – Sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Image from Unsplash.com

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