2016 is a year composed of details we currently know nothing about. Of course, we can make some assumptions about it, as we have done with previous years, and some will take place. Yet they will not occur because we thought previously that they would. Instead they will happen because there is One in charge who does not make any assumptions and does not need input from anyone regarding the passing of time.
No doubt, there will be situations on the global and national levels that will have so many ramifications we will not be able to take them in. I doubt if even the leaders of the nations will grasp the significance of most of them. That comment is not made to disparage them – after all, we should show them respect. The best form of respect we can show is to pray that God would give them wisdom regarding what to decide and do in 2016.
What will happen to the church worldwide in 2016? It will grow, and that assessment is not based on an assumption. Instead it is based on what the Bible says about the kingdom of Jesus, that he is building his church, and there is nothing that can prevent him doing so in 2016. This awareness is a matter for celebration, for praising Jesus that he will not cease in his work of gathering in his people from all over the world. It did occur to me as I was typing this article that the Good Shepherd would have gathered in several in the short time that I have been typing (about five minutes). And he will have gathered in a lot more by the time you read it.
What will happen to the church in Scotland in 2016? Who can say? There are signs of possible roots of recovery, but even if they persist, there is a very long way to go. Even with regard to our denomination, in the nineteenth century there were more Free Churches in Glasgow than we now have in Scotland. And the population today is much higher numerically! At the moment, we are still on the edges of society whereas previously the church was in the centre. But before then, the church was also on the edges, so hopefully God will repeat his gracious acts of the past and revive his church in 2016. We should certainly pray for this to happen.
What about ourselves in Inverness? Imagine it is December 2016 and we are looking back at what has taken place in and through our congregation over the previous twelve months. Should we do so, I suspect in our minds there would be a picture of what we currently are praying for. God expects us to have a vision for what he can do, not because he will be confined to it, but because it will reveal what we think he can do. And prayer is an accurate screen for displaying our expectations.
In many ways, any spiritual success in 2016 will be connected to speech. Words need to be used when interacting with God, when having fellowship with one another, and when speaking to those who are not yet Christians. It is hard to envisage any other method of growth, and even if we could, it would not be biblical. So maybe we should plan to make 2016 the year of plain talking.