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2020 Hindsight.

26/12/2020

2020 Hindsight – Review and Analysis of the Year..

Text.  John 1:10-12. 

I wonder how many of us will be glad to see the back of this year?  How many will sincerely hope that 2021 will be better?  In this blog post I want to look back on 2020, hopefully with a Christian worldview, and seeing what has gone wrong with this world, (biblically) and more importantly, ask whether there is any answer to the problems of 2020.

The Image of 2020

1 2020 has Clearly Shown a World Without God10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

This phrase, ‘the world did not know him’ just about sums up this year for me! We have watched as people hopelessly flounder in a sea of misery, created by their own fear. I watched an ITV interview on the 10pm News, on the day that Boris Johnson introduced the new Tier 4 Restrictions in England.  A 20-ish woman in a Vox Pop said, “I don’t want to live in a world where people, like, pass away.”  The fear of dying has stalked through the world’s population, and it is ‘frightening them to death!’   It has resulted in both a demand for rights and a denial of rights:-

Listen to The Semper Reformata Podcast on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/bob-mcevoy/episodes/How-to-Cope-With-the-Darkness-of-2020-eo9tel/a-a47l8m9

  • A demand for rights.  The demand for rights certainly ratcheted up in 2020.   One person’s rights clashes with another person’s rights, and whose rights will prevail?  That’s part of the tension that we have, living in a rights-obsessed society.  And what is the relationship between rights and responsibilities?  On a global and national scale, we’ve seen demands for change from…
    • Black Lives Matter.  It began with a death.  No, it didn’t, actually, for BLM had been around for a good while before George Floyd was brutally killed while under the procedure of arrest in the USA.  We watched it on our screens… a knee on his neck, his cries of ‘I can’t breathe…’. The characterisations of him afterwards, by each side in the debate, as either a Christian, or a violent criminal.  The police officers, under detention for murder, who apparently were following a specified police procedure when arresting a man with a record of violence who is high on drugs.  Whatever the circumstances of Mr Floyd’s death, BLM became a worldwide revolutionary movement, with stated Marxist ideology, supporters of which took to the streets, looting, rioting…  the pulling down of statues, the disrespect of history, the shaming of people for something done by others in the distant past, the complicity of the mass media.  But don’t we, as Christians agree that Black Lives Matter? Yes, of course we do, just like every other life matters, and that’s the difficulty with ‘sound-bite’ slogans.  The Christian response is that all of us came from one set of parents, from Adam and Eve, we are all related, no matter the amount of melanin colouring our skin. Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. We are all sinners, and we all need the Saviour, and that Jesus, when he died at the cross died for all men, of whatever colour,  John 3:16, and that in heaven, there will be people from every tribe and every tongue and every nation, gathered around the throne of GodRevelation 5:“You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10  And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”  The writer of the children’s song expresses in the simplest of terms the Christian understanding of ‘race’ – ‘Jesus loves the little children, – all the children of the world, Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.
    • Extinction Rebellion.  The people who have a slavish adherence to the ‘green agenda’ – A wide-spread sinister quasi-religious cult who to all intents and purposes worship a false god, ‘Mother Earth…’ a return to the pagan religions of old.  Gaia worship.  No surprise then that the same people who want to save the earth have no qualms about abortion, for child sacrifice was a frequent manifestation of pagan ‘earth worship’ religions.  Witness the false religions of Moloch and Baal in the OT.  And of course, one of the primary tenets of this religion is that the world is overpopulated anyway, so we must have ‘women’s rights’ – the right to unhindered hedonistic pleasure, but no rights for the unborn children who result from that wanton behaviour.  This year, the prophetess of the Gaia cult has been a teenager called Greta Thunberg, who rants incoherently at world leaders influencers and politicians, in speeches she has been fed by professional activists, many media types, left wing leaders, right-on politically correct types cringe before her like adoring puppies.  But don’t Christians care about the world, the planet we live on?  Of course we do, but we don’t worship it, or make it our over-riding priority. People, and their never dying souls are more important than the planet! To make ‘Mother Earth’ our god would be idolatry.  We are responsible for the world, as Adam was, to care for it, and to populate it, and to cultivate it properly so that all can be fed from its bounty.  Genesis 1:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  But at the same time, the Christian will realise that this earth is fallen, like we are, ruined by the fall, a broken world…  yet one of the ‘side effects’ of the work of Christ upon the Cross is that this world, broken and groaning under the burden of sin, will one day be redeemed.  Because of Christ there will be a new heaven, and a new earth, and the creation is presently awaiting its redemption!  Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now.
    • Lockdown Scepticism.  Let’s not forget that the streets have not just been invaded by left wing activists like ER and BLM.  Recent demonstrations in London and throughout the country by people opposing the lockdowns have turned to violence too, while strange fanatics like David Icke rant conspiracy theories.  Christians are reminded by Peter, that moderation and self-control are part of our Christian character, 2 Peter 1:5-7 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
  • A denial of rights.  The defining aspect of 2020, surpassing even Brexit was the Coronavirus pandemic which swept the world, with country after country falling into line, locking down their citizens and seriously damaging their economies. It’s not for me to publicly take sides on the issue, and you will have your own opinions on whether government’s strategy was befitting the risks of the disease. What we can surely agree on, is that this year as a response to the virus, the government has been micro-managing our lives, and criminalising the smallest of normalities.  Elements of life that we took for granted, have been taken from us, in the government’s efforts to defeat the virus, or save the NHS, or flatten the curve, or whatever the current news-speak is.  Threat after threat, – ‘don’t kill granny,’ 10000+ deaths in NI, all of the government/SAGE driven fear-laden propaganda has made us stand apart from each other, afraid of human contact, removed the common courtesy of a hand-shake, stopped us from smiling at children we meet in the street…  

You can see why we want to leave 2020 behind us.  Now, my proposition this morning is that the state of humanity in 2020, is largely a result of the fact that as human beings we are incomplete without a relationship with the God who created us.  I’ve tried my best to illustrate the extreme variance between the actions and ideas and philosophies of this age and biblical morality, the Christian worldview, and the mindset of the believer in Christ, God and His Word. In the difference between those two polar opposites, we must surely be convinced that this year’s strange events show that this world and those who live in it are hopelessly lost.  As Paul said, in Ephesians 2:12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  

2 The Solution to Humanity’s Lostness11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Let’s come to the more positive part of this review of 2020, that there is hope for us all, and yet we start with a disappointing negative…  

  • When Jesus came into this world, his own people reflected him.  Of course they did.  They rejected his ministry, his message, his love, and they nailed him to a cross.  Let’s not be too judgmental though.  They still reject him.  Even now, the people who have enjoyed the blessings of a Christian society still reject him, still turn him away.  Yet…
  • In Jesus we have the right to be a child of God.  What an amazing offer of rights!
    • The right we do not possess.  It’s one right we have no right too!  Because we are sinners, and because we have rejected him, and are at war with him in our carnal nature, we are the children of our father the devil, and we have no claim to be a child of God.  Indeed the only person who had that right was Jesus, God’s only begotten Son.  Yet,
    • We can receive him!  We who have no rights before God can receive those rights in Christ!  as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God,.  How can we receive him?  Simply…
    • Believe!  to those who believe in His name.  To the jailer at Philippi, Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!”  Just believe, accept that he died for you on the cross, that all of your sins are forgiven, and rest, trust in his saving love.  Doesn’t seem possible?  It’s not, from a human standpoint.  But then you see, 
  • In Jesus, God has brought out out of lostness and into his love.  This a saving work is God’s work, not ours!  Look at how, in this verse:-
    • Our utter helplessness is described.  We cannot be saved by our race!  Not of BLOOD!  Being white or black or brown, or of some ethnic source is no ticket to heaven!  You can’t be a Christian because your parents were Christians!  Nor can your decision save you!  The NIV translates this verse brilliantly, 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  And you can’t make someone else a Christian!  I can’t transfer my faith, my belief in Christ to you, or believe me I would!  There is NOTHING we can do to save ourselves!  – But wait, you just said we must believe!  That’s why:-
    • Our rescue is defined.  It is God’s work!  It is he who gives us the faith to believe, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. It is God who convicts us of sin, when we are brought to saving faith in Christ, we are ‘Born of God!’  

There is an answer to the real problem of 2020, the underlying problem that mankind has rejected God, and is willingly and deliverately wallowing in its own wickedness and sin. That answer is Jesus, the Saviour of the World, the only begotten Son of God, whose perfect life and atoning death offers us hope, love, life and peace. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

3 Jesus, the Believer, and Rights.

Finally, I leave with you a point to ponder.  When the world around us is obsessed with demanding it rights, what should the Christian attitude to the ‘rights issue’ be?  Read with me:-

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus laid aside his rights for me, for that I could be given a right that I did not have, the right to be called a child of God.  Should we sometimes, consider laying aside our rights for others?  I don’t know, – I’ll just let YOU think that one through in 2021!  

BobMcEvoy December 2020

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