The year 2020 will certainly not be forgotten any time soon. I cannot recall any period of my own life where politics absolutely took the forefront in occupying the thoughts and conversations of virtually everyone. Who knew a chest cold could cause such a stir? Everyone had an opinion on the pandemic, how it should be handled and what role the government has to play in it all. For the most part, I have found this involvement to be a good thing. People now, more than ever, realize just how important it is to preserve our freedoms and liberties. I also noticed that more young people are moving toward a conservative political view as the result of the mandates and lockdowns. Most importantly, the true church (in a universal sense) has had to finally put our collective foot down and make a stand for our right (duty) to worship.
Simply put, there has been a lot of really good things that came out of this mess of a year.
Now, if you would have told me last year, that in 2020, churches would be getting fines for meeting, and tyrannical state government officials would be peaking in windows to see if we are wearing masks or singing hymns, I would have called you a crazy conspiracy theorist. What happened in 2020 is certifiably insane and was in many ways, unforeseeable. The country (and the world) literally shut down over a chest cold. There are mask mandates in effect almost worldwide. People actually think that a dirty cloth tied around your face will save you from getting sick while you wander around Walmart with nearly a thousand other shoppers. The biggest election fraud in our nation’s history seems to have been swept under the rug. And a man who is perhaps the most inept and incapable Presidential candidate in our nation’s history is set to take his oath to lead our country.
God help us!
As bad as it is, and as bad as it may get in the future, this is not a cause for pessimism. The gloomy despair of cynicism is the last thing we should allow ourselves to sink into. Personally, I am kind of excited because it’s finally time to fight! And I mean to really fight, like throw down for what’s good and right. There is virtue in this battle and it amps me up. And fear and gloom have no place in the heart of the Christian. My great hope, the hope of every Christian, is that, though all of the forces of the world, and all the forces of hell itself comes against the Church, Jesus has promised that the Church will not be overcome. (Matt. 16:18) We cannot lose this fight! It behooves every Christian to look to the year 2021 with the unshakable resolve to stand firm in the confidence of Christ’s promise to us!
I am no prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but it doesn’t take a prophet to see what could take place in our near future. The potential for things to get even more difficult for all of us, and for faithful churches, (even in Montana) is not unrealistic. But Jesus did not call us to be those who cower and live in fear. It’s in times like these that the light of Christ shines brightest and in His name we press forward for the cause of Christ and righteousness.
With that said, here are three things that Christians should strive for in 2021.
1. Do not live in fear. Fear is a powerful tool used by the liberal news media to get readership up and bring people down to make them easier to control. Presenting the often false idea that things are only ever bad and just getting worse, creates a pessimistic mindset and expectation for the worst. The herd mentality of fear then drives us to watch the news outlets carefully looking for any hint of “news” that confirms our deliberately and externally, manufactured expectations. In a psychological sense, we are being defeated by the news that is stirring up irrational fears before any real battle even begins.
I heard one person say I stopped going to church because I knew they were going to shut them down anyway. That sort of defeatist attitude is exactly the sort of thing we need to avoid this year. This year we need to fight as those who have a cause and are willing to give our all to see it through. God has NOT given us a spirit of fear. He calls us to stand in His strength and go forward not fearing what they fear. Pandemics are not times for the church to cower and hide but to rise and serve. A rigged election is not the call for us to give up politics as a lost cause, but instead to stand up to evil and injustice. Fear cannot drive our lives when we serve a sovereign God who rules the universe and who calls us to those who proclaim righteousness and truth.
2. Don’t compromise biblical convictions. In the face of fear and intimidation there is always the temptation to compromise. Now more than ever we must hold fast to what is good and true. We cannot give up on the Lord’s Day, we dare not stop administering and receiving the means of grace, and we certainly must not quietly accept evil in our society.
This is not the time to lay aside what we passionately stood for a year ago. Admittedly, many churches were taken by surprise when the lockdown measures came. Once bitten, twice shy, we are not going to be duped again anytime soon. We know that an irrational fear of this virus is no reason to cancel the essential services of the church. And we know that there are obvious problems with the election process and will be ready for the next time. Now is the time, more than ever, for us to stand firm in our convictions and to work to make the appropriate changes for the future. Compromise of our convictions must not be an option, it’s the time to stand firm and give up nothing.
3. Live with hope. There is so much that should bring us to our knees in joyful thanksgiving to God. I have great hope for the future. I know that the church will never fail, rather, it will always flourish even in the most trying of times. No government has or ever will succeed in shutting the church down. We will thrive in the midst of anything you throw at us and by God’s grace, we will do so with a faith that is worthy of the history books. The future prospects of the church are glorious.
Moreover, we have a great hope in Jesus. He is the ruler of heaven and earth and His will cannot be thwarted by the schemes of men. We carry on as those called out of darkness and into His glorious kingdom, we are those who have a sure and certain hope in Christ.
The future of life in the United States is also hopeful. Consider, the red tsunami that swept our beloved state, the hope that our future Governor will re-open our economy, and that the church finally has an ally (or least no longer has an enemy) in the state government. These are the things that give us hope for the future of our country. 2020 took us all by surprise and still we experienced political victories that were not inconsequential. I for one am glad that the PC culture that has slowly begun to dominate the republican party is on its deathbed. Our party is sick of rinos and closet liberals and is finally doing something about it. The future is bright!
Get ready everyone, 2021 could be just as memorable if not more so. But, may we resolve to not cower or hide, may we resolve to let our voices ring with truth, and may we resolve to continually strive for justice and virtue with hope!
[Editor’s Note: This opinion piece was written by Matt Davis, pastor of Reformed Baptist Church of Helena]