“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra
Happy New Year and welcome to the year 2022! If we’ve learned anything during the past few years, it’s that predicting the future is a notoriously difficult thing to do! Who could have foreseen all the ways the COVID-19 pandemic would disrupt our lives? Who could have imagined developing a highly effective vaccine against the coronavirus within 11 months of the first documented U.S. case? Who could have predicted that vaccine hesitancy would cause millions of people to avoid receiving this vaccine?
Of course, such challenges don’t prevent people or even entire industries from trying to predict the future. The website futuretimeline.net specializes in year-by-year and decade-by-decade predictions of what’s coming during the remainder of the twenty-first century. It also provides more general predictions for the twenty-second century, the far future, and beyond. For example, it predicts that driverless hover-taxis will become operational in Dubai in 2022, that the 6G cellular network standard will emerge by 2030, and that Mars will have a permanent human presence by 2060. Whether or not these predictions come to pass, it’s fascinating to ponder what’s coming in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, biology and medicine, energy and the environment, and more in other fields.
Since at least as far back as the Enlightenment, people have been predicting the demise of and writing obituaries for religion in general and Christianity in particular. “God is dead!” “Religion is obsolete!” “Christianity is passé!” But the reports of the death of Christianity turn out to be greatly exaggerated, even in this age of religious deconstruction and spiritual homelessness.
While it’s true that religions do adapt to changes in technology and culture (online church anyone?), what hasn’t changed in 2000 years is our human yearning for purpose and meaning, as well as our deep need for community and connection. Following Jesus has provided such meaning and connection across an incredible variety of cultures through time and space. Further, when Christians have gotten off course (and they surely have throughout history), the life and teachings of Jesus have given rise to reform movements and corrective impulses that have chastened and renovated the Church.
Part of our work as the living, ongoing church on Earth has to do with both adaptability to changes and faithfulness to Jesus, both responsiveness to the needs of our day and loyalty to the Way of Christ. So as we begin this new year, I’m reluctant to make any grand predictions for what 2022 will bring. However, I will be bold to say that we must be creative and steadfast, innovative and rooted, as we seek to be the blessing and make disciples of Jesus in our community. May God bless us in so doing!