We are looking forward to what lies ahead in 2018 as we work together at Saloma Baptist Church in ministering to our community and world in the name of Jesus Christ. Although it seems that each year passes by more quickly - probably a sign of getting older, the new year is a time of renewal in many ways. The new year reminds us that we will have new experiences and opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A new year affords us the chance to begin anew and to correct our mistakes and failures of the past year as we go about serving the Lord. The new year reminds us that with each passing day, the sins of our past are forgiven and forgotten as a result of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we get the message God is sending us as we begin 2018 and move forward in serving Him and in serving others.
The post-modern world (forgive my use of that over-used phrase - no other description of these times come to mind as this blog is written) brings many challenges our way as people of faith. And 2018 will be no exception. There are days when it seems that we are falling further and further behind in terms of impacting the world for Jesus Christ and our beliefs are less acceptable and mainstream than in previous eras of history. Increased secularism and humanistic influences abound, and many of our Christian values and beliefs are scoffed at by "mainstream" culture. What are we to do? Are we to react militantly and defiantly? Do we raise our voices and try to scream louder than those who choose to oppose us? That seems to be the strategy that some in some leadership circles seem to choose. But it is what Jesus would do? What would He have us to do in 2018?
Returning to the more positive tone of my opening paragraph above, it seems to me that Jesus would have us to anticipate opposition, as believers have throughout the 2,000 years of the Christian movement, and react to it with grace and humility. Yes, there are times when we have to take a strong stand and not back down in terms of what we believe and how our beliefs are to be reflected in our actions. But in general, Jesus would have us to react with love, humility, and grace. The words of Paul in Colossians 3:12 remind us: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." James 3:13similarly states: "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."
In 2018, let's move forward with a positive, loving, compassionate, humble, gentle, patient, and kind spirit and attitude. May we live each day for the Lord - fully, joyfully, hopefully, and humbly. There will be many opportunities to do His work - and there will be multiple challenges along the way. Let's do the work of the Lord in unity and love, taking it one day at a time, and ministering to all people (regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, language, or economic status) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. May your 2018 be blessed!