It’s fair to say this year has been full of unexpected events. Even a passing remark about these cases will likely get at least 1 angry mob to come after you, especially with an amplified voice online. So I’m going to do it, tackle both religion and politics in one post and get as taboo as possible! All joking aside, I did have some thoughts I wanted to share about what we’re experiencing in 2020 so far.
For anyone here skimming this post, the key message here is: people on this earth will certainly fail you, but God never fails you.
To those wondering, when I say “God” I’m specifically mentioning the God described in the Christian scriptures. You may not be a believer, but I encourage you to indulge me in this post nonetheless. As we are seeing continual, regular reminders about how failure-prone people are, I think it’s at the very least encouraging to entertain the notion that something better exists out there. To any atheists or agnostics, I’m not trying to convince you — just humor me for a spell. Consider this an opportunity to learn how believers think. To the monotheistic reader, here’s a reminder.
From a reformed, orthodox, or Catholic perspective, God makes several key promises in scripture, but most prominently a promise articulated by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:9. It’s a promise that is considered universally true regardless of denomination, creed, or sect of Christianity. In other words, something all Christians can actually all agree on. And it states as follows:
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
There are plenty of brilliant biblical scholars that have explicated this passage, who are miles more qualified than I am to explain its meaning. Nevertheless I’ll give you a simplified version:
There is one condition to end up in heaven with God and avoid an eternity in Hell after you die (and, as a byproduct, to live the most fulfilling life on earth possible), and that’s to place one’s faith wholly and completely in God. It means acknowledging that Jesus died, was resurrected, and is Lord of all — this is the gospel. If this trust in God is fully realized, your faith will be reflected in your beliefs, utterances, and actions. As a result, you are given the free gift by Jesus to spend eternity in paradise upon your death — a new heaven and new, perfect earth. That is God’s promise, and essentially the core of Christianity’s entire belief system. The conditions of this promise never change, apply to anyone at any time regardless of who they are or what they’ve done, and are grounded in truth.
For each key event in 2020 so far, I will contrast humans’ efforts with an attribute of God’s promise from above. You’ll notice a pattern.
Early in the year, COVID-19 struck the world. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first about its true danger when reports initially emerged, and wondered if the threat was exaggerated. However as cases spread rapidly with deaths across the world, coronavirus demanded to be taken seriously. This is no light matter — individuals’ action and inaction inadvertently caused the spread of an unprecedented world pandemic that has caused death, canceled livelihoods, and severely crippled the economy. Some assured staying in quarantine would quell the spread, while others argued staying inside made existing cases worse — and the damage had been done, we hadn’t acted soon enough. Who to blame always seems to change, and the stories aren’t consistent. By contrast, God and His word are constant and never change.
After the murder of George Floyd, the influence of a powerful political movement, BLM, and the continued violent, angry riots that followed, quarantine seemed to take a back seat. Both government officials and citizens are to blame. An egregious abuse of power, a violent response damaging innocent bystanders, and a troubling “them vs. us” narrative emerged. All of it’s bad. God is always good, loves each person unconditionally, and forgives anyone who repents.
Recently, outings of abuse, sexual in nature and otherwise, have also spread like wildfire. Even as of yesterday, in the niche Super Smash Bros. competitive gaming community, it has occurred. At best, abuse stories can be proven and the perpetrator is put on ice, which can lead to justice for awful wrongdoings. At worst, it becomes a he says/she says situation, and either an abuser gets away with unspeakable acts unscathed, or a completely innocent individual is punished for something they never did. In any case, people struggle to find the truth, but God always knows the truth.
2020 has been a difficult year for me personally in a few key areas, especially near the beginning of the year, the details of which are not for me to share here unfortunately. Regardless, we should remember the struggles individuals are experiencing this year aren’t exclusively tied to what we see in the news. And the assumptions we make about people aren’t ultimately what are true, even if we use them as devices to help us understand the world. I am working on understanding that better. While I fail to be discerning, God is always wise.
When I’m in a tough spot, and everyone seems to be shouting, all I can do is state what I know to be true. So here it goes:
First of all, nothing is more important than loving God, and loving people (even those you disagree with or dislike).
Secondly, human life is inherently sacred and possesses value.
Thirdly, immutable characteristics (skin color, sexual proclivity, etc.) do not have any bearing on any person’s worth or value.
Fourth, strong familial structures are integral to a stable culture; without them, it collapses.
Fifth, violence does not produce an optimal outcome.
Sixth, what’s true is true regardless of the identity of the individual who utters it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this if you reached the end — I put careful time and thought into this. I hope this post serves as a refreshing reminder that’s different from the anger and vitriol out there right now, but still confronts these issues with an appropriate level of gravity and seriousness. These are unprecedented times, and it’s difficult to know what to make of it sometimes. I’m doing my best to learn and grow — thank you for indulging me.