A New Year’s Message from the International Director
“Happy New Year” is our usual, hope-filled greeting to friends and family at the start of each new year. For some, this hope is realized to varying degrees, but for others, sadly, a new year becomes a year to forget!
Collectively, the world is hoping for a happy, prosperous 2021 – but will it be so?
Historians tell us that history never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme. (A recent article on this subject by freelance writer Jamie Seidel is worth a read.)
Have recent global events (with the COVID 19 pandemic being just one of many) been history trying to tell us something? Are current global events beginning to rhyme eerily with past historic events of significant proportions?
The world’s first global civilization existed some three millennia ago – it has been labeled ‘The Bronze Age.’ What brought this civilization to an abrupt end was a combination of war, climate emergency, economic disruption, famine, refugees and pandemic. Does this sound familiar? Is something rhyming for us here? The Bronze Age’s collapse gave way to another civilization some 600 years later, a far more developed and sophisticated one than the Bronze Age. Again, a rhyme of Biblical proportions!
The Bible talks about ‘the end of the age’ * (Mt 28:20). Yes, the world as we know it will come to an end. This will not be just the end of a civilization but the end to all civilizations—ruled and governed by men (Dan 2:44). The end of this age will not give way to ‘nothingness’! It will give way to what Peter calls, “a new earth” or a renewed earth (2 Pe 1:13), what Paul refers to as a new creation (Ro 8:19-21) and what God refers to as ‘all things being made new’ (Rev 21, Isa 65 ). This tattered, worn out, world will be changed for a far, far better one (Heb 1:11-12)––governed by Christ and his people (Dan 7:27, 1Co 6:2, Lk 19:17).
God, through the ‘rhyme of history’, has been preparing us to recognize the ‘signs of our times’ (Mt 16:1-3, 1 Cor 15:46) and therefore to act accordingly. Are the signs pointing to the arrival of ‘the very last of the last days’ (Ac 2:17)?
The Bible tells us that as we get closer to the ‘end of the age,’ things will get worse rather than better (Mt 24:21, 2Ti 3:1)! Like collapsing civilizations of the past, the ‘end of the age’ will be marked by events and developments bringing tremendous suffering and hardship, climaxing with the collapse of the current world order (Rev 21:1). The pain of the ‘birth pangs’ of God’s new civilization will be like no other (Mk 13:8, Ro 8:22) – just as this new, glorious civilization that will emerge will be like no other (2 Pe 3:13).
God has promised to be with us (Mt 28:20b), even as we are also impacted and affected by these ‘birth pangs’ (see parable of the wise and foolish builders Mt 7:24-27). Most of us have, and will continue, to suffer through this ongoing pandemic and other events and calamities throughout most of 2021. This is an opportunity for us to firstly, ‘mine’ the ‘rich treasures of darkness’ (Isa 45:3) – to know God and his ways more deeply and meaningfully than ever before and secondly, to ‘shine’ ever more brightly for Christ and his kingdom. To be that city on a hill that will glow even brighter as the darkness in this world grows even darker (Isa 60:2).
Peter admonishes us in 2 Peter 3:11-12, ‘Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought we to be? We ought to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.’
God’s ‘new world’, his eternal age, ought to be what we are eagerly looking forward to, not trying to extract pleasures from the ever fading glory of this present world. We ought to be living in the light of his coming and the full realization of new creation. And, therefore, as Peter says, to ‘speed its coming’!
How do we speed its coming? The answer is simple––by living a life on mission with God! The clearest indicator as to when Christ will return is the completion of his mission agenda. There is no other statement in scripture that follows with an emphatic “and then the end shall come” as Matthew 24:14. And Matthew 24:14 is all about ‘God on mission and God on mission with his people’!
God has, throughout Biblical history, provided Mobilizers (prophets) to call God’s people back to God and to challenge them to live their life on mission with God––to live for the very reason why we have been called to be his chosen people. The year 2021 will prove to be a defining year for Simply Mobilizing and for each one of us as Mobilizers! Can we, by the grace of God, ‘find our voice’ like never before and, in creative, convincing and powerful ways, call God’s people back to God and to live a life on mission with God––to see all local churches being missional and helping to facilitate God’s people on mission with God?
God’s people represent some seven-hundred million of the world’s population. We are found in some five million local churches and reside in every country of the world. Imagine, just for a moment, if this huge expression of Christ’s Kingdom on earth was mobilized for world Christian mission! The ‘finishable task’ of reaching every people group, of presenting the gospel to every person, and of displaying the reality of Christ’s kingdom through our transformed lives could very, very easily be achieved and finished!
We can ‘speed his coming’ in 2021. God is with us. SM has a prophetic mobilizing ministry from God which we must steward and steward well.
So, happy, fruitful and a momentous 2021 to all the SM family! May 2021, by the grace of God, be like no other year for mobilization and therefore for mission. As our friend and colleague, Don Richardson, was fond of saying, “Let’s keep the main thing the main thing!”
May 2021 be our best year yet, for the advance of Christ’s glorious kingdom (Pr 4:18).
*Also referred in the Old Testament as the Day of the Lord (Joel 1:15, Amos 5:18, Obed 15).