It has been quite a year, hasn’t it? A global pandemic, surging awareness and activism in racial inequality, wildfires engulfing large swaths of forest, and a political climate that felt very much like a wildfire—engulfing public discourse with palpable heat and urgency.
And yet, when we look back on 2020, we can say with confidence that Christ was near, comforting the brokenhearted and empowering His people to be beacons of hope to a world in desperate need. We learned new and creative methods of being ambassadors for God’s kingdom.
It is fitting, then, that we close out our year in the Advent season, a time to remember how Jesus, our Rescuer, entered our lives and a world in need of rescue. It should come as no surprise that each audience that received the Christmas story through the centuries faced its own challenges in its own broken world.
Isaiah wrote to a people who had put their hope in the systems of this earth; in idols and unfaithful kings. They were destined to be judged by God and crushed by invading occupying armies. Yet God’s Word expressed reason for them to hope in a coming, eternal King!
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light…
You have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor….
…For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders….
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:2,4,6,7 NIV84, emphasis added)
Many centuries later, at the time of Christ’s birth, those living in occupied Galilee and Jerusalem knew well the yoke of oppression imposed by the Romans and their puppet kings. They were ready for the Messiah to come. These words were written to announce the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. …A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord….” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:10-14)
Fast forward to 2020. It is still tempting for us to look for hope in earthly answers and kings. Our souls still cry out for things to be made right, for fuller manifestation of the realities that are promised in the Savior. This year has underscored our need for justice, our need for hope, our need for Jesus.
Our Navigator mission to “advance the gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations,” and our goal to have “1 million multiplying disciplemakers” is as relevant and urgent today as it has ever been.
The faith initiatives of our National Strategy: abiding in Christ, igniting disciplemaking movements, and multiplying disciplemakers’ impact are fundamental in meeting the cultural moment in which we are ministering.
As we abide in Christ, we lean on our Rescuer: the one who understands, consoles, redeems, and leads in perfect wisdom. And as we continue to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, we trust God to ignite a disciplemaking movement that will bring hope and restoration to those aching for the world to be made right.
This Christmas season, may we experience the burden-lifting God on whose shoulders even governments rest! I pray that we will grow to live with power, being instruments of love, justice, and good news wherever God has placed us. And may we look ahead with the energy and expectancy the Holy Spirit provides as we abide in Christ and partner with his inrushing Kingdom.