Thinking about 2019

What does the year 2019 have in store for us? What does the gospel of Christ have for 2019?

If there is one thing that 2018 taught us, it is that none one knows what a year may bring.

Yet, our culture would have us believe that it offers an abundance of solutions to bring clarity to the mystery, direction to the confusion.

The next smartphone will solve all your problems. A quick internet search will provide you with all the answers. This new app will connect you to the world and possibly your soulmate. Buy this, live here, go there, be like them…and you will be happy. If that does not work, drink this, take those, and stream that until you forget about it all.

Christian author Trevin Wax calls these the myths of our culture. These myths are essentially lies that we believe because they appeal to our deepest longings. Every day, it seems like we are barraged by countless myths each more believable than the one before.

When confronted by the culture at large, we Christians—especially in America—feel overwhelmed by the constant fluctuation. We know there is solid ground in the truth of God’s Word. However, it seems like we are daily challenged by some new idea or trend even further removed from a Biblical understanding of the world than the previous one.

Christians often oscillate as much as the culture does. Some reject as much of the culture as possible with little regard for the people the fail to reach. Others accept as much of the culture as possible with little regard for the truth they fail to affirm. Meanwhile, our responsibility to be salt and light to the culture is largely neglected.

As Wax writes,

When we feel uncertain and confused about our rapidly changing society, we lack confidence in the gospel and in the power of the church. Many of us wonder: Are we truly up to the task of being faithful in this time?

So, what does it mean to be faithful in this time?

Previously, I recommended Trevin Wax’s book, This Is Our Time. It has been an enormous help to me personally. I think it is an immensely important book for Christians thinking about the culture around us.

One of the many reasons why I believe it is such an important book is an idea that Wax offers for thinking about the myths we encounter. He suggests that behind every myth our culture tells us is a longing and a lie. The more acutely aware we become of both, the better equipped we are to faithfully shine the light of gospel. In so doing, we expose the lies that are being spread, but we also demonstrate that the gospel of Christ fulfills our deepest longings.

Looking for the Longings

In 2019, we have the same longings we have always had, we have only found new ways to pursue satisfaction.

We are obsessed with online profiles because we long for community. We are addicted to entertainment because we long for a story that turns out in the end. We are infatuated with having better stuff because we long for a solution to our fractured lives.

Christians know that we long for these things because we were made for these things. We were made for community, for narrative, for reconciliation. Our problem is not in our longings. Our problem is we believe the lies of those who promise to satisfy them.

Looking for the Lies

In 2019, we will no doubt see scores of new products and new crazes. But, one thing is for sure: the lies will be the same. People and things making promises they can not keep.

As connected as we are, we are lonelier than ever. As entertained as we are, we are more depressed than ever. As affluent as we are, we are more dissatisfied than ever. Someone has lied to us. Or, perhaps we have lied to ourselves.  

We Christians should know better. Behind every sin is an attempt to get what only God can give some other way than the way God gives it. That is the insanity in the lie of sin. We think we can steal something better than what God has already provided. Then, when those things we bought into do not deliver on the promises they made, we are left more broken than before.

Shining Forth the Light

But, here’s the thing…

In 2019, we still have light.

We fall for lies because we long for what they promise. When they do not deliver on those promises, we find yet another myth to believe. But, the light of gospel of Christ shines through, breaking that viscous cycle.

God delivers on his promises through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is no vague or shallow response. Through the gospel, God brings us into communion with himself and his people. He opens our eyes to the narrative of redemption we have been a part of all along. He fulfills our longings in a way that no possession, experience, or accomplishment in this world can.

To quote Augustine: “You have made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.”

Trevin Wax outlines this framework for thinking about and living in our time:

We find common ground when we see past myths to the longings behind them.

However…

If we do not expose the lies at the heart of the stories in our society, we imply that the Christian view of the world is just one option among many, just one way of finding fulfillment.

Therefore…

Evangelism is not just convincing people the gospel is true but also that it is better.


“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1

Solomon reminds us that despite how good we may be at creating patterns and preparing for disruptions in our lives, there is one indisputable fact: we do not know what tomorrow holds. How much truer is that of the entire year? We do not know what a day may bring forth, much less 365 of them!

 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8

Yet, the Bible reminds us that despite all the difficulties of the past and all the variables of the future, Jesus remains the same. All the truth and promises that are found in him will continue to be found.

In a time when coping mechanisms and distracting amusements are all that is offered, the gospel of Christ offers answers and stability. This is more than what people want; it is what people need.


Thanks for reading!

I would love to hear your reading goals for 2019 and the books you would recommend from your reading this year. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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