“[Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17).
“Happy New Year!”
That’s the appropriate greeting for this time of year, right? How does that old hymn go? “The old year now is over, with all its ups and downs. May our Jesus Christ now bless us; no crosses, only crowns!”
Persevere in faith
It’s natural for us to expect that 2022 will be better than 2021. Take it from a Chicago Cubs fan who dwells in a mostly Milwaukee Brewers universe these days: Hope springs eternal. Yet the truth of the matter remains: None of us knows what 2022 holds, except for the One who holds 2022 in his powerful, eternal, all-knowing hands.
Does that mean we should wring our unknowing, finite hands in worry, anxious about every turn around the next corner? Just the opposite! The fact that our Jesus not only knows the future but knows our future—and we don’t!—is actually a very good thing for us. Knowing every detail would ruin us forever. It would rob us of all reason for our gospel-given faith. Our Savior-God wants us to trust him wholeheartedly with our future, taking a day at a time, not thinking that we could manage it better. He wants us to be confident that he always uses his foreknowledge for our eternal good and has our ultimate best interests in mind.
None of us knows what 2022 holds, except for the One who holds 2022 in his powerful, eternal, all-knowing hands.
That’s reassuring, especially since it’s not impossible that, from a worldly point of view, 2022 could be a miserable new year for us all. It could be far from happy. But regardless of how good or bad it might turn out to be—again, from a worldly point of view—none of it will unfold outside of God’s perfect foreknowledge and his eternal saving plan for his people.
Serve in joy
But through thick or thin, what does he call us to do? To persevere in faith and to live in joy for Jesus, the giver of all life. That’s the point St. Paul is making in 2 Corinthians 5. He is warning these first-century Christians—and us—to avoid the temptation of living for ourselves and thinking that the goal of life is our earthly happiness. Far from it!
Happiness is a truly fleeting thing, a worldly mirage, entirely subject to what happens. We’re happy when things are good and unhappy when times are bad. St. Paul admitted that he once regarded the Old Testament promise of the Messiah that way. He believed Christ’s coming to his people in this world would usher in an earthly existence of unending happiness.
Not so. Instead, in Christ, we are a new creation, people who no longer live for themselves. That means we no longer selfishly labor for our own ever-elusive happiness. Now we live for others, serving everyone in love and Christian joy, regardless of the crosses we are called upon to carry.
How strange! How wonderful!
So “Happy New Year”? Maybe not. But through faith in Jesus and in service to him, we’ll have joy in 2022 and forever.
Author: Peter Prange
Volume 109, Number 01
Issue: January 2022