2020 was a hard year…a revealing year.
At the end of 2019 Church leaders around the globe were ‘prophesying’ that 2020 would be the year of ‘2020 vision’ and boy didn’t they get that 100% right!!
2020 was a year when we got a beautiful glimpse of the human heart in all of its wonder beauty and fragility. I personally saw people walking across the street and going out of their way to make sure the vulnerable in our society were alright, that their shopping was done and that they weren’t alone. I saw families in their cars driving in succession down streets and cul-de-sac’s wishing little boys and girls ‘happy birthday’ as they were unable to have parties or see their friends. We were able to see the absolute best in humanity all over the world. We also saw the worst as fear paralysed, crippled and made us lash out over the simplest things, such as toilet paper in shopping aisles.
2020 also showed us how the agenda’s and ideologies of the ‘principalities and powers’ of this age have infiltrated the Church. As Church leaders we all have preached about ‘new wine’ and ‘new wine skins’ throughout 2020, it seemed to be a subject matter that God was wanting to bring to our attention, but when the time came to let go of those old wine skins…well, lets just say the Church seemed to be a bit reluctant. We all seemed to be holding onto the ‘old’ for dear life whilst at the same time proclaiming the ‘new’.
2020 also pulled back the veneer for us to see the abuse, division, racism and elitism that has occurred in many parts of Jesus Church. These revelations brought with it more ‘bogey men’ like CRT and BLM issues for many evangelicals to attack – maybe we were blessed with ‘2020 vision’ in the year 2020 after all!
And then as we bid 2020 farewell and as a new year dawned it only took six days for a massive exposure to occur that had been nurtured in Churches for possibly decades. The world saw the violent Insurrection protests in America and to our shock this movement, broadcast all over the world had Christians symbolism thread throughout it. Christian singing was heard, preaching was done, there were prayers, banners and flags pointing to our Christian heritage – Christian Nationalism seems to be more powerful than what we would dare imagine.
I think it is a mistake to dismiss this as an ‘American issue’, as God may have just allowed a mirror to be raised for us all to peer into. I also think it is a mistake to follow the pace of our 24/7 news cycle and move on to the next item on the agenda. There is something here that we need to look at and look into because somehow along the way we as followers of Jesus have gotten lost.
The obvious question is “What or who has been discipling us over the last decades?” Is our allegiance to Jesus and His Kingdom values or have we somehow allowed the ideologies and values of this present evil age to infiltrate our Churches and mascaraed as spiritual virtue – I think the latter is true.
We must again return to reading scripture faithfully, which means studying faithfully – easier said than done I know. We need to grappling with, engraft to and embody God’s story, the story that has been laid out for us in Holy Scripture,( not a narrative that suits our preferences), returning to the Good News of Jesus, His Kingdom and what this means for our present world.
Learning the ways of Jesus is uncomfortable and difficult. It may mean that our most precious KPI, Church attendance is left behind – this is a hard pill to swallow I know but the way of the cross is not for the faint hearted. A life shaped by the Cross does not coddle to up power and influence, rather it serves generously and continually pours itself out for the flourishment of others, including our enemies. This lifestyle may not marry well with our modern ideologies of ‘Church Growth’ but if the lack of discipleship can escalate to what we have seen in this past week then maybe this is the path we must now take.