Keep your eyes on the Cross & Crown: New Year reflections on Titus 2:11-14
As we embark on 2021, we are facing much of our lives in household ‘bubbles’. It feels like our worlds have got smaller. In addition, there is the continual shifting of the goalposts of what we are able to do. With these demands, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Wouldn’t it be great for a moment to take a step out of the bubbles we inhabit and consider ‘how ought I to live this year?’
It seems a bit presumptuous talking of plans for 2021 when we can hardly plan for next week. But turning to God’s word has been helpful to remind me that though he doesn’t give us specific plans, he does give us big priorities.
I’ve been reflecting on these words in Titus For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13)
Paul encourages us to look in two directions. Look back to Jesus’ first appearing and look forward to his second appearing. As we begin 2021, I am telling myself: keep one eye on the cross and one eye on the crown.
Keep one eye on the cross
When Jesus first appeared, he ‘gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness’ (Titus 2:14). The cross was the culmination of his appearing on earth. It is the concrete expression of God’s grace that offers salvation to ‘all people’. When we keep the cross in view we are reminded of our need and also our assurance of salvation. I know keeping one eye on the cross is crucial every day.
Keep one eye on the crown
The appearing of Jesus in glory is our blessed hope. A crown of glory awaits those who are in Christ. I know there will be plenty of challenges on the way there. We are not immune from trouble this year including coronavirus. But a glorious ending is not in doubt.
So, let’s keep one eye on the cross and another eye on the crown. These two great events are outside of our experience. They are not visible inside our bubbles. But we can let their message burst into our bubbles so we will enjoy a far bigger perspective.
God’s Grace teaches us
It seems that Paul reminds us of the cross and the crown because this is how God’s grace teaches us to live godly lives. Grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to say yes to a self-controlled and godly life.
We may not be able to make plans or typical resolutions for 2021. But in fact, here we have the great priorities we can pursue whether we are in a Covid crisis or not. Whatever is going on at present, God’s call to live a godly life is top priority.
It’s a wonderful encouragement in our Covid-scarred world to keep one eye on the cross and one the crown. It is the bigger and better perspective we need. But it is also a spur, to live the godly lives we are called to this year. May the cross and crown help us to live God-honouring lives as we inhabit our bubbles, venture forth online and as we are able to get out and about encouraging our church and neighbours. And so, may we have a truly Happy and godly New Year.