They may wonder: Is this the year for markets to collapse causing my life’s savings to plummet? Or will a surge of high inflation do much the same damage? Will terrorism continue to spread even to the country in which I live? Who will protect children from sexual predators who seem to be everywhere? And is cyber-warfare the next global menace, which could disable the electrical grid, the financial infrastructure, or even the minimal functioning of government?
All of this makes us wonder again, will 2012 be the year? And if so, the year for what?
Christians have a special answer to the question. It is lodged in the word “hope.” Paul wrote of hope to young pastor Titus who had been assigned a difficult mission on the Island of Crete where paganism flourished. Paul reminded him of the “hope in eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)
Elsewhere he writes to the Christians in Imperial Rome that because God has forgiven our sins through our faith in Christ “we rejoice in the hope of seeing God’s glory fully revealed” (Rom. 5:2 free translation).
“Hope” is the Christian’s word for the future’s positive outcomes, but a word always lodged in eternity.
This eternal hope tempers our fears and at the same time strengthens our resolve to live faithfully and with strong Christian intention in “this present evil world.” Will you join me in the following resolves for 2012?
I. We resolve to make 2012 the year for rooting our lives more deeply in the daily practice of earnest prayer, letting our prayers blanket the world in faith. As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
Just as Abraham’s prayer for mercy for his nephew, Lot, brought a divinely ordered escape, so, today it will be the prayers of the saints that hold back divine judgment from a world gone sadly awry (Gen. 18).
II. We resolve to make 2012 the year for deeper commitment to the ministries of Christ’s church on earth. Churches everywhere on this continent need renewal. E. Stanley Jones wrote that although the church on earth is admittedly flawed, it is still the best instrument that exists for doing God’s work in the world. But as Paul so clearly saw, it is concentrated prayer on the part of the saints that make its ministry effectual (Eph. 6:18).
III. We resolve to make 2012 the year for a deeper commitment to personal righteousness in daily living. The sweep of relativism (“there are no absolutes”) and the excessive application of pragmatism to moral issues (“truth is what works”) has brought a moral softness to all of us. This softness affects the church at all levels. It makes it too easy for us to look the other way rather than face and resist evil for what it is and stand for righteousness.
In that regard, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink (do’s and don’ts) but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Beware: the issue here is not self-righteousness, a deadly substitute. It is true righteousness – the commitment to live out our lives in Christ by God’s given moral standards as they make their appeal to our consciences.
IV. Above all else, in 2012 we resolve to keep our ultimate hope anchored in the visible return of Christ. We know that we occupy enemy territory here on earth and the New Testament has many promises and exhortations that say our eternity with Christ is where the Christian hope is anchored. Someone has estimated that one out of every 28 verses in the New Testament is centered on this glorious hope: Christ will return and every eye shall see him! Will 2012 be the year?
Let us lift up our eyes, believing that 2012 could be the year! And in so believing may this renewed hope give us holy zeal for living for him in the here and now.