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Following Jesus

What God Wants of Us in 2018

January 1, 2018 by

There is something special about turning the calendar to a new year. It is a chance to reflect on recent events and to look ahead to the future with a fresh perspective and with resolve to meet its challenges. What is God asking of us today, in this new year?

It is more important to ask this question than to answer it. We need to see the future both in the context of history and in the context of our present world. We need to look through the lens of God to see and comprehend his vision for a kingdom of peace and justice on this earth. Likely, we will not discover any new insight or revelation, but what we find will unlock a potential energy in our souls: the energy of love; of conviction; of seeking for peace, justice, and purpose in life.

We need to look through the lens of God to see and comprehend his vision for a kingdom of peace and justice on this earth.

However veiled our glimpse of God’s vision may be – Paul tells us that we are only seeing dimly, as through a glass – it is the image of God, the spirit of Christ, the word of life and of light. We must walk in this light:

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5–7).

It requires faith to walk in the light. This is the year to have a new faith, a faith as firm as the people of old described in Hebrews:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel … Enoch … Noah … Abraham . . . Sarah . . . Isaac and Jacob … Rahab . . . conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness . . . (Heb. 11).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted (Heb. 12:1–3).

a vineyard at sunset

Paul encourages us to emulate a multitude of Biblical figures, but there are also current examples of how we can live in faith. Among many, I think of my father Johann Christoph Arnold, who inspired many people with his active life of faith, hope, and love. Shortly before he died this past April, he wrote this entry in his diary:

To one day be allowed to become a small part of this cloud of witnesses is a wonderful but sobering thought. Just imagine who we will meet there: the apostles, our parents, the early Christians, and many others. That will be an overwhelming experience. Most likely this cloud of brothers and sisters and children will be praising and thanking God. I can also imagine that they will do a lot of praying for the billions of people that are still lost on the earth. It is God’s will that each one will come to repentance, so that one day all knees shall bow down to God. God’s plan is so great that nobody can fathom it. It must be God’s wish that everything be reconciled.
May it be given that I and we can become a small part of this incredible spiritual battle where everyone who has been created in the image of God will become redeemed. Jesus said the amazing word that “if one sinner repents, the angels in Heaven will rejoice.” God’s plan for redemption is powerful and incredible. In the meantime we who are still on this earth have a huge debt to pay to God. We all can help a tiny little bit by becoming peacemakers and reconcilers on this earth. This is the harvest in the vineyard that Jesus talks of. Like Jesus said, “The harvest is great but the workers are few.” Let’s become workers in the vineyard for Jesus. This will drive away all the fear that is in us, even if it costs us our lives. Let us get going with a burning love for Jesus.

So if we are to make any New Year’s resolutions, let us resolve to be workers in the vineyard of reconciliation. Let us resolve to make wine instead of vinegar. Let us hope for what we don’t see. Let us run the race to the finish line. And let us walk in the light.

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  • God wants us to love each other and share everything with our neighbors. God wants us to serve people and love everthing on the earth that is creation of God. May God help us to feel and fill love and justice in our hearts. Lets work for peace and justice because we belong to eachother. Love your family so the peace begins...Thank you brother J.Heinrich Arnold.

    METİN ERDEM