2016 has sure been something. On a personal, national and even international level, this has been a year of extreme controversy, heartache, hard choices and pretty much anything else you can think of that could drive a wedge between two people. This year we have shown, as a nation, that we have the capacity to hate people not for who they are but for what they think, what they do, or who they vote for. We have shown that we, as people, have the capacity to turn our backs on each other for no reason besides color – whether it was black vs. white, or red vs. blue. We have shown that this year, this season of life, could be a critical turning point in this country and that until we intentionally make our way back to a nation united, we will remain a nation divided.
2016 has pitted friend against friend and brother against brother. It has broken up holidays, it has turned any gathering into a war of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” 2016 was a hard blow to the rosy picture in my head of this great nation and the great people that live here.
But that picture isn’t gone, and 2016 didn’t ruin us. 2016 didn’t make us something that we aren’t, and it didn’t drive us so far away from goodness that the damages are irreparable. 2016 showed that we are human, we are flawed, and we have seasons where it hurts a little to look back at. So if that’s what 2016 is for you, a page that gives you a little twinge of pain when you reread it, I just want to say that you are not alone.
So as we begin the transition into looking ahead to 2017, I just want to leave this right here because in my opinion, it is one of the best verses that depicts the mentality you should have going into this new year. It is not a time to hold grudges and to keep people at arms length. It is not a time to live in unforgiveness and keep drinking the koolaid that praises bitterness and unwavering pride.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14
It is a time, maybe now more than ever, to live in a way that shows the unchanging, unconditional love of the Father in heaven. It is a time to bear with each other, and understand each other and relate to each other in a way you never have before. It is a time to pray for those who hurt you and to forgive those who have turned against you. Even if it seems like there’s no point, love your neighbor. Even if it seems like they could never return the favor, be kind…be gentle…be patient…be compassionate…be humble. Clothe yourself in that because the closer you get to Christ-like, the closer those around you get to Christ. And if that’s what happens, none of the rest matters, because at the end of the day, that’s the whole point.