As the dust begins to settle from the events of the first week of 2021, many Americans are reconsidering their wish that the now infamous 2020 would finally come to an end. Political strife, social unrest, violent and deadly attacks in the U.S. Capitol, and a spiking global pandemic have left indelible stains on the New Year and on our nation. These horrific events and almost non-stop media coverage have prompted some of our citizenry to adopt a war-like posture, while others have retreated into a state of despair. But, as Americans, and more importantly as Christians, we must respond in a different manner.
An admired friend recently told me, “the hard work of Democracy begins with crisis, and this crisis is definitely going to test the character of our nation.” He recounted living through the assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and 9-11, to name a few. Although those times were extremely dire, our nation mourned, came together, rallied, and once again thrived. We must do the same in 2021!
This is not to say that many of the concerns underlying this week’s actions—including peaceful rallies in Washington, D.C.—lack merit. Strong political and policy differences divide our nation. Racial unrest and violent riots continue. Deep concerns about the security and legitimacy of our elections fuel suspicion and a lack of trust. And the ever-present threat of COVID-19 on our individual lives, our families, and our country has tensions at an all-time high. These are fundamental issues that cut to the heart of our republic.
Political & Policy Concerns: Pro-Life, Pro-Family and Pro-Democracy Americans have reason to be profoundly concerned. On Tuesday, the two runoff elections in Georgia created a 50-50 tie in the U.S. Senate. This will allow Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to be the tie-breaking vote on critical issues in that chamber. Following Wednesday’s riots, the U.S. Congress confirmed the election of President-elect Joe Biden, and Democrats hold a slim 10-seat margin in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives. This means that Democrats control not only the White House but both chambers of Congress, setting the stage for a barrage of radical, leftist policies including unrestricted abortion, legal rights for LGBT+, socialism in varying forms, and other anti-family initiatives. The Biden/Harris administration is also expected to use the power of executive orders and administrative action to impose this radical agenda on the American public. They will also likely rescind and reverse many of the critical gains made during the past four years in the arenas of life, religious liberty, and individual freedom. We care, because these impending changes are not just words on paper, but because they will impact the real lives of real people, including the most vulnerable among us.
The Riots: Violent and destructive civil unrest has become a tolerated activity across the U.S. Like a growing cancer, these riots are eating away at the heart of our republic. Many local, state, and national leaders have ceded control to violent mobs and those who are bent on spreading division and chaos. Allowing and enabling riotous activity simply fuels more of the same, putting the lives of citizens, as well as property, our economy, and the foundation of our government at risk. Unlawful, violent and destructive acts of any kind must be condemned and rejected, and lawful order must be restored.
COVID-19: The coronavirus pandemic continues to bring record levels of infection and mortality to nations across the globe. Although two vaccines have been approved for use and are being administered in the U.S., and others are in the pipeline, the American public and our economy continue to be ravaged by COVID-19. The wearing or not wearing of masks has become a political statement, and striking a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods remains a constant challenge. Protection against government overreach and dictatorial mandates is vital to the health of America, but so is looking out for the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. Instead of responding to “political” pressures and outside influences to determine how we act, each and every one of us should pause and consider 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
It is also imperative to remember, as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, that our faith is in God and not man. Jeremiah 17:5-8 instructs,
This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.”
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
In the coming days, may God grant us the resolve to sink our roots deep into His stream of living water so that we may demonstrate to our neighbors, our nation, and the world, that the Lord Jesus Christ is not shaken by our worldly circumstances but remains sovereign over all things. May His gracious Spirit enable us to be a light in this nation, and, like green leaves in a parched and barren land, bear witness to His love, grace, mercy, and truth. May God help us resist the urge to despair, but, instead, resolve to do all that we can, through His power and strength, to restore civility, trust, and reason in our land. And, as we bear fruit—as He promises we will do—may He be glorified and honored, and may others come to know Him in a deep and personal way.
If this be the case, then we can look forward to 2021 with confidence and welcome, with anticipation, the opportunities and challenges of the coming year.
Blessings to You and Your Family,
John L. Rustin