Evidence abounds that the festivities of the holiday season are over. If your house is anything like mine, then it’s going through a transition between Christmas and ‘normal decorum.’ The fridge has a few remnants of unhealthy, delicious food, the scales probably show a few more pounds, and the forthcoming return to work and school is bearing down fast. The tree is on the curb or back in the attic and the new-car-smell has worn off of the gifts received. It is officially a new year! While 2018 is certainly full of possibility and opportunity for God to do some amazing things in our midst… if I were to be completely transparent for a moment, the beginning of 2018 feels like its fighting through a 2017 hangover.
No matter where you live, this past year has been full of unexpected difficulties that include but are not limited to:
- The largest mass shooting in U.S. history (remember 2016 also saw the largest mass shooting)
- Hurricanes that will significantly impact the economy of Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico for years to come
- A hate-march in VA that looked more like something from Nazi Era Germany than the land of the free (remember the violence from the events in Charlottesville, VA; a woman lost her life and two police officers were killed in a helicopter crash while patrolling the march)
- An increase in frequency of lone wolf terrorist attacks like the Manhattan truck attack that left 8 people dead and many more wounded
- The church shooting-massacre in Sutherland, TX that left 26 people dead
And this list could go on and on because we haven’t even mentioned the unprecedented amount of sexual assault and harassment that has come to light, the wildfires in California, and I think we can all admit that on both sides of the aisle, statesmanship and civility in politics went on vacation for a while.
In October of 2017, with three months still left on the calendar, Time Magazine ran an article stating:
“If you could see grief on a map, there would be rings of anguish radiating from whole regions of the U.S. right now. From Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, the hurt would expand with each person affected to the people they’re connected with in all parts of the country. No state would remain untouched by the events of 2017.” 
But when depravity seems to keep topping and outdoing itself in more insane and perverted ways, the Christian should exist in culture as a trophy of God’s goodness and grace. When the world seems to be on an ever-so-slippery slope to a destination where nothing good remains, those who follow Jesus should attest to God’s presence and provision in turbulent times. Yes, the world is broken, and that’s why God has called the redeemed to be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16). As Christians, we are to think and act differently. We are to engage the culture in an effort to preserve the people in it, while simultaneously illuminating people to the hope that lies beyond the present situation. I believe life in Christ is the only source of help and solution from the 2017 hangover of historic proportions.
So, with all that in mind, I want to challenge us to revisit and rediscover a healthy, biblically informed understanding of five concepts.
- Personal Holiness: What does it mean to live a life set apart to the gospel of God?
- Civic Responsibility: What does it mean to be a Christian who is a citizen?
- Healthy Leadership: How does one steward, cultivate and maximize his or her influence for God’s glory?
- Gospel Advancement: How should disciples pursue the mission of Jesus?
- Sacred Purpose: How do Christ followers live each day focusing on life’s ultimate purpose?
My belief is that if we have a biblical worldview on these ideas, then we are positioned to be the salt and light that God has called us to be in 2018. And my prayer is that we will then become the type of people who demonstrate the goodness of Jesus on the good days and on the bad…and in the years that make sense and in the ones that seem to be spinning out of control. Because, as my friend David Nasser said the other day,
“Not sure what 2018 will hold, but sure of the ONE who holds it.”