Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Facing 2013

Message from January 2013 congregational newsletter  

Who knows what 2013 will bring? I have heard that statement many times, usually with the emphasis that no-one knows. From a Christian point of view, the question can be a statement of unbelief because we know that God knows what will happen in 2013 (and in 2113, should Jesus not have come back by then).

The other implication of the question is that some would like to know what will happen because they imagine they could change things beforehand (which, of course, is an impossibility – no-one can change what will happen). But would we really like to know the future? Think of all the problems, tragedies and turmoil that have happened in 2012. There have been so many that probably we have forgotten about most of them. Imagine we had been presented with a list of them on January 1st 2012, and we had to spend the weeks and months waiting for them to occur. We would not have been able to handle it. It is actually a blessing from God that he keeps the future hidden from us, whether on personal, ecclesiastical, national or global levels.

Of course, some will ask, ‘Why does God not do something about the future and prevent such negative things from happening?’ Does God mind us asking him this question or ones like it? The answer is no. After all, Jesus was once asked about the future and he replied by saying that there would be wars, earthquakes, famines and family troubles, as well as persecution of his people, and I suppose those things have occurred every year since he was asked that question.

What would we expect God to do in a year in which both the British and Scottish governments intend to enact laws that are contrary to his Word? What do we expect God to do in a society that has materialism as its god and uses his Day as a means of accumulating more? What do we expect God to do in a wealthy community in which there is an underclass struggling to find even the basic things of life and where numerous children go hungry day after day? What do we expect God to do in a country where human life is demeaned by abortion, and where incredible numbers of his image bearers are treated with disdain? Do we expect God to bring peace on earth when we have huge companies in the West (and elsewhere) manufacturing weapons and selling them to other nations to use in their internal and external wars? What do we expect God to do with his professing church which treats his Word as a book only fit to be ignored? There is one thing certain – we don’t have the moral authority to tell him what to do.

Yet has he told us anything about what he will do? He has. He has informed us that he will listen to our prayers, which is an open invitation to pray as much as we want. (How many will take God up on this offer?) He has informed us that he will meet with those who seek him through his appointed means, which at the very least is an encouragement to be in church as often as possible. He has informed us that his kingdom will continue to grow through the conversion of sinners, which is sufficient reason to be confident in the gospel. He has informed us that when iniquity comes in like a flood, the Lord will raise up a standard against it. Well, the flood is flowing, so we should be looking for the standard. He has guaranteed that there will be summer and winter, springtime and harvest, despite what global warming may bring about. He has promised that there will be common grace (his general kindness to all) and saving grace (the blessings of the gospel). And he has said that there will be trials and tribulations, perhaps severe ones, but he offers to take us through them and to use them to prepare us for another world.

Who knows what will happen in 2013? God does, and he knows what to do and what not to do. And that is sufficient reason to begin the year by putting our souls and bodies into his care.

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