Uncertain Dreaded Scary Dismal Happy New Year!
“Happy New Year” is what we all say: Right? Sure, some need a few drinks and a party hat to get there, but they will speak the words. After all, who wants to be at a New Year’s Eve party and have someone be a downer? So, “Uncertain New Year, “Dreaded New Year,” “Scary New Year” or “Dismal New Year” would never catch on–even if that is closer to what you may be feeling.
Most people who know me, I hope, would say I’m a positive person. Yet, with terrorist attacks proving they can happen anywhere at any time … with friends and loved ones fighting illness … with that empty space in our hearts that grief has caused … Well, I’m just saying.
At least, we can look forward to the New Year as Christians knowing that all of us, whether nondenominational or totally denominational, are on the same page.
United in Christ, we can be confident in one another and completely assured of being safe in one another’s presence–knowing we are unconditionally loved by each and every believer. Can’t we? Look at 1 Corinthians 1:10:
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. (NIV)
Wait! That fellow Christian said what about you? No, way! That “Christian” actually did that to you? Yipes!
It strikes me that while the terrorists, illnesses and losses may find us helpless, the oneness and the unity of us as children of God is something we can and should do something about. Going into the New Year, you and I can do our part to help unify God’s people. While this won’t necessarily cure evil, illness or loss, it will comfort, encourage and strengthen those who are facing difficulties and disasters. It will also work wonders in your own heart and life.
Here are three specific qualities you and I can exhibit to foster unity in faith:
- Forbearance. Did you ever say or do something that hurt someone? You’re thinking that you likely made them mad. Then, to your amazement, rather than the person you hurt getting angry, hurt, moping around and planning revenge, they simply shrugged it off. No big deal. They just let it go. Do you remember how relieved you were?
That’s called forbearance. And, we can foster unity in God’s church by simply cutting people some slack–room to make an error and forgiven before forgiveness is requested–even if it is never requested. If we allow room for brothers and sisters in Christ to make a mistake, we preserve unity, build relationships and bless others. In so doing we are responding to what our Heavenly Father did for us in His Son:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)
- Encourage. Remember St. Paul’s missionary partner, Barnabas? He is one of my favorite people in the Bible because Barnabas wasn’t his real name! His name was Joseph. It’s just that everyone called him Barnabas because of how he interacted with others: Barnabas means “Son of encouragement.” May your life and mine be thought of as encouraging. The broken people in your life (that’s all of them) could most certainly use a good word from you:Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
- Criticize others angrily. Yes, I am absolutely, totally kidding. In fact, criticism and anger toward one another may just be the most divisive thing we Christians do. Speak well of one another beginning with the things you think about:And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
While a “Happy New Year” depends on circumstances, a “Blessed New Year” is something we can bring to others and in so doing, by God’s grace, experience it ourselves.
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