Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Those who are able to reframe will adapt to society’s new landscape.
Now that the 2020 elections are behind us and the new year is upon us, we must pivot to restoring some semblance of normalcy. Vaccines for COVID-19 offer the promise of mitigation against widespread infections, and the incoming Biden administration has pledged to scale our nation’s response to the virus.
However, anxiety and depression still loom over the land like a dark cloud, sapping away the resolve of believers and unbelievers alike. More layoffs are certain, extended prohibitions against indoor gatherings and activities are likely, and months of more mask wearing is forecasted.
What does the new year hold for us? None of us could have imagined what we experienced in 2020, and 2021 could be just as unpredictable. But we must enter this year with firm footing, resting upon a firm foundation. In short, we must set our hearts and minds to building new structures and pathways for the world in which we now live.
A return to normalcy does not mean a return to our former way of living. Rather, it means establishing new norms for our new world. Change is hard, and adapting to change is even harder. But the necessity of adaptation creates new opportunities for us to thrive and flourish in unchartered territory. In his book Canoeing the Mountains, Tod Bolsinger encourages us to reframe how we see our landscape by challenging and expanding our perspective. According to him, reframing “is the most critical skill for adaptive leadership.”
In order for 2021 to be a year of expansion and growth, we will have to be adaptive people who reframe how we see the landscape of our lives, which will reshape how we lead and live in this brave new world.
The Apostle Paul exhorted the Christian community in Rome to “not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2, HCSB). They were not to view the world in which they lived through the same lens as the rest of society, for Christ had opened their spiritually blinded eyes. Instead, they were to think differently, transformatively, adaptively. God was calling them to a higher paradigm of living, individually and collectively. Their ability to reframe would help them discern how to view life from God’s perspective.
There are several ways to view today’s landscape. One way to view it is to give up hope and become nihilistic. Over 300,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, millions have lost their jobs, millions are experiencing food insecurity, and millions face possible eviction from their homes. Under these pressures it is easy to surrender to the present dystopia that pervades our land.
A second way to view today’s landscape is to grow angry and become antiauthoritarian. Churches and businesses are being forced inoperable, the media and our political leaders are hypocritical, social injustice continues with no resolution in sight, and many, rightly or wrongly, are fed up with being told what to do. These pressures have created pockets of powder kegs that could ignite at any moment.
Thankfully, there is a third way that stands over and above nihilism and antiauthoritarianism, and that is re-creationism. Paul uses the word “renew” in several of his letters (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:10; and Titus 3:5). In each instance he is referencing the human spirit and/or mind and speaking of an inward renovation.
Recreation speaks to God's eschatological renovation of all of creation at the end of human history (see Rev. 21). What this teaches us is that chaos (Gen. 1:1-2) and corruption are the very landscapes that God uses to display His creative paradigm and power. As beings made in God's image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27), we have been imbued with creative capacity. Moreover, those who have placed their faith in Christ are indwelt by His Spirit, giving us access to His enlightenment and empowerment.
Therefore, as Christ’s followers, we will not conform to the nihilism and antiauthoritarianism of today’s society. We will reframe how we see the current landscape and seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to instruct us on how to recreate structures and systems that facilitate expansion and growth.
This renewal that Paul speaks of is facilitated through the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in our lives. By reframing how we view the current chaos, the present renovation that God wants to bring about in us and through us will be realized in a world that yearns for the old in the new.
What does the new year hold for us? Only God knows. But those imbued with His wisdom and power have the ability to renovate the world in which we now live.
Rev. Isaac Hayes is the president of Healing of the Soul Ministries. He is also an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL, and a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes
 Tod E. Bolsinger, Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2018), 208.  Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 110.