Getting close to God in 2020

Header image for the article Getting close to God in 2020 Credit: ISTOCK (RAWF8)
Opinion: Make self-examination, and looking for God, a part of your New Year's resolutions.

Be active. Absolutely. It’s not a good idea to let your body or mind atrophy by not giving them any exercise. And work hard at your courses because, well, we know the ‘because’. Good resolutions for 2020.

But also, I would say, look for God. Here are two ways to do that.

First, be grateful. On Christmas day, a member of my family had a serious cardiac incident. That’s probably the gentlest way to put it. Air-lifted to the hospital where his heart stopped, but, with an electric jolt, revived. I’m grateful. You’ll have your own personal reasons to be grateful.

Or consider some non-personal reasons to be thankful. Here’s one: global poverty rates. According to the New York Times, in 1980 just over 40 per cent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today the rate stands at 10 per cent. Even making allowances for possible changes in the definition of poverty or other factors, it looks pretty impressive, especially when you consider that the world’s population has about doubled since 1980.

Of course, we should be grateful for specifics, such as the people who fly medivac helicopters and those who help people rise above the poverty threshold. But there are many times when we are overcome with a deeper and, at the same time, more general feeling of gratitude — a strong feeling that looks for something to be grateful to beyond immediate causes. God fills that bill (among many others). The sources of good in our world are, in the end, manifestations of God’s good creation, his blessing, and his care.

Second, change and renew. There’s a jarring story in the Bible about some strong minded Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus, 2020 or so years ago. In this story they accuse a woman of committing adultery — that is, cheating on her husband, or cheating with the husband of another woman. The Jewish law of the time permitted her execution by stoning. These men were ready to commit the deed. She was as good as dead.

But there was a delay. Some one, or several, asked Jesus what he thought. He took a moment before he spoke.

“Let anyone who has never sinned be the first to throw a stone.”

With a few well chosen words, Jesus not only shut down the woman’s execution. He also got her accusers to look into their own lives.

I think that’s where the story should land for us — with a call to self-examination. We ought to consider our own lives, and the wrongs that need righting. The wrongs we’ve been doing through 2019 must be abandoned. They need to be replaced by right thinking, right imagining, right speech, and right action.

“Focus,” one of Jesus’ promoters (“Saint” Paul) said later, “on what is noble, admirable, true, and lovely.”

Not a bad candidate for a new year’s resolution. Even, we could argue, a candidate for the cornerstone of any civilization worth sacrificing for.

Going into 2020, it might feel as if God is not relevant, near, or real. But we might find that by being more grateful we get a stronger sense of his nearness. And we might find that by changing and renewing our attitudes and habits, God doesn’t seem so far away after all.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.