Being a Christian in 2018
Jesus prepared us for what we would face. Matthew 10 describes how He sent out His disciples to go through the cities of Judah, preparing the way of the Lord. He gave practical advice, but He also prepared them for the difficulty of seeking to live a holy life.
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues” (Matthew 10:16-17). Jesus told us in effect that the Christian life will be a battleground not a playground.
Though we go through difficult times, we must not have a spirit of fear. As we enter into this new year we must realize we are going to enter into opportunities to share, defend, and proclaim our faith. Perhaps in the past this has been difficult for you. For that reason, these are the top four types of Christians we must be going into this new year.
A Christian of unity.
In the year of 2018, Christians need to cultivate affection across differences for those who are truly your brothers and sisters in Christ. Agreement with others is different than love for others. Humans have never been good at this; we highlight differences as reasons for separation versus reasons for discussion. And the philosophical and emotional climate today makes it even harder. Paul tells us to “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). I take that to mean that the Holy Spirit is the great giver of unity, and that this should be something we seek. This is not going to be an easy task for the Christian in 2018, but a crucial goal of bringing the body of Christ together.
A Christian who sacrifices.
Can you genuinely love something and not sacrifice for it? I love my wife Darian and I tell her often. She is my light, my better half, my everything. However, if I stopped dating her, stopped kissing her, stopped giving up my time, money, and possessions for her, would she have a place to say that I have lost some of that love for her? If this continued over a long course of time, I think most would agree this is what happened; I just don't love her as much as I use to love her. Let me just ask: does this immulate your relationship with the church? You say you love the church and that you don't know what you would do without it, but that passion, that drive, that sacrifice for the church is no longer prevalent. For the 2018 Christian, sacrificing for the church will serve as a catalyst for the future of Christianity.
A Christian who prays.
The church needs prayer warriors and you as a devoted follower of Christ need to be praying. Paul says it perfectly in Ephesians 6:18: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Prayer is not something that God needs; prayer is something that we need. God can work miracles, heal sicknesses, and communicate with us outside of prayer, but we need it. Why? I'll keep it simple: prayer humbles us, connects us, and empowers us. God's people need prayer and if this is something you struggle with, make an effort to be more prayerful in 2018.
A Christian of hope.
We see the church numbers dip, we see more empty chairs on Sunday morning than normal, and our hearts drop. Have you had this feeling? Christians often lose hope because they see many people in their lifetime walk away from Christ and his church. As a Christian in 2018, we must be overflowing with hope. If we don't have the hope that Christ is for us then we will be engaged in self-preservation and self-enhancement. But if we let ourselves be taken care of by God for the future—whether five minutes or five centuries from now—then we can be free to love others. Then God's glory will shine more clearly, because that's how he becomes visible. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade" (1 Peter 1:3-4).