Over the past couple of months, much has been written—and many a meme created—on the much-anticipated end of 2020. The world, it seems, is ready to have done with it! Ignorance and uncertainty, cowardice and impudence, fear, injustice, cruelty, and violence—long the stain on human history—have crowded our waking moments and haunted our restless slumber. “Humans are born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,” Job mourned, putting into poetic language the harsh reality we’ve all been experiencing recently. So, as Americans look forward to the conclusion of 2020—with many at the ready to toss it into the waste bin of history —they now find themselves hoping (against the odds, it must be said) that 2021 will prove itself radically different.
At Modern Reformation, however, we haven’t considered 2020 a throwaway year. It is not that we have been insulated from its troubles. We have not. It’s not because we remain blissfully ignorant of its woes. We are not. And yet, we have regarded 2020, as we have all other years, as a calling and a privilege to live coram Deo.
As MR’s editor-in-chief, Dr. Michael Horton, wrote back in March:
Not even death threatens us because it is the “last enemy” whose claim on believers in Christ has been rendered null and void (1 Cor. 15:50–57). We care for this world not because it will be destroyed but because it will be restored (Rom. 8:18–25). Our lives are now driven outward to our neighbors instead of being turned in on ourselves. We are fueled by freedom, not fear, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). The real headline should be, “It’s Easter!”
At MR, despite the ongoings of the world around us, we continued to approach our work in the mode of post resurrectionem Christi. Because Christ has risen, neither death nor life, economic realities or political parties, not even family ties or friendships have the ultimate, defining word on the believer’s life. Although those may be the great determiners of human enterprise and anguish, this is true only in the present form of this world (1 Cor. 7:29–32). We know that this world is fading away and that the risen Christ will come again.
Secure in such confidence, therefore, we labored on through 2020. Back in the early spring, I challenged MR readers to pursue magnanimity, writing,
Magnanimity is acquired by the Spirit wrought and difficult practice of extending ourselves to great things.
God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and of a sound mind. Let us not lose our gaze entirely in this fleeting and temporary shadow; let us seek first the kingdom of God, which is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Yes, there is evil, disorder, and death in the world. But being, goodness, truth, and beauty are the deeper reality, the greater reality, the real reality.
Let us stretch ourselves toward these great realities—truth, goodness, beauty, the kingdom of God—in contemplation and prayer.
Throughout 2020, MR stretched itself toward these great realities in both our print and our digital offerings. We are so thankful to God for blessing these endeavors as well as blessing us through our highly valued readers and their continued thoughtful engagement and support.
As we get ready to finally turn the calendar page from 2020 to 2021, we’re excited. Not because we consider 2020 to have been a wasted year, but because it helped us better understand the meaning of magnanimity. We therefore look forward to continuing to extend ourselves in 2021 toward the great realities of life. We believe this is precisely what our pusillanimous and deeply embattled culture needs right now. They too need to stretch themselves higher toward truth, goodness, and beauty. They too need to hear, or be reminded, of the reality of the kingdom of God.
This work comes at a cost. Each year, MR continues due to special gifts, over and above subscriptions. Will you partner with us in this vital endeavor?
Joshua Schendel, PhD, is the executive editor of Modern Reformation magazine.