To calm fears or stir up strife, media pundits and prognosticators are eagerly forecasting what 2024 will bring – a Biden or Trump victory, economic recession or boon, world war or resolved conflicts, spiritual collapse or revival. Half will be wrong. We lack security where there are no certainties. The world offers no guarantees, so lasting peace is elusive in this life. Happiness is available to most but fleeting for all. However, there is security (as well as peace and joy) in five predictions sure to come true that should shape our New Year’s resolutions for 2024.
1. Only Living in Light of Eternity Will Bring Security
The first half of my life I searched for security in the approval of friends, parents, and bosses. None of those gave me what I was looking for – no matter how successful I was in performing for their pleasure. The second half of my life has been spent trying to please my heavenly Father. That transition in 1996 launched three years of prayer and worship that shifted my perspective from short-term personal gain to long-term investment in eternity. When my heart was finally ready for the responsibilities of caring for a ministry and family, the Lord revealed a blueprint for Meet The Need through a “Road to Damascus” experience and introduced me to my wife just as miraculously. Meet The Need is a poverty-alleviation and Gospel-sharing ministry that has blessed millions in the mighty name of Jesus. The Lord likewise blessed my marriage and gave us a son. Having an eternal perspective allowed me to do what my dad and his couldn’t – break generational cycles to pass along eternal security, peace, and joy to my child. We can’t give what we never had.
In 2024, my New Year’s resolution is to think incessantly of eternity, but not in the sense of being “so heavenly minded I’ll be of no earthly good”. Quite the opposite. Instead, like the Hall of Faith members in Hebrews 11, eternal thinking should fuel bolder steps of faith and compassion in this life, unconstrained by worries about self-preservation. Specifically this year, I hope to replace each worry about the temporal with a corresponding celebration of the eternal. For example, whenever anxiety arises about wealth, I’ll turn my thoughts to generosity. When a health scare occurs, I’ll focus on taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit. Anytime I’m tempted to cling to possessions, I’ll recommit and surrender them to the Lord. If I’m ever concerned about what someone thinks about me, I’ll flip the script to how they feel about Jesus.
2. The “Successful” Pursuit of Happiness Won’t Last
Politicians don’t keep all their promises. Inflation destroys wealth. Careers end. Health fades. Relationships fracture. Good leaders, economies, jobs, and reports from doctors provide temporary comfort, but not enduring hope. An eternal mindset doesn’t diminish enjoyment of life’s pleasures but keeps them in perspective. Obedience to the Lord, demonstrating His love, and communing with Jesus – seen as restrictive religious obligations by non-believers – should be our sources of greatest joy. For example, the times I’m most uncomfortable are when I’m too “comfortable”. I worry that if there are no attacks then I’m not a threat (to spiritual and terrestrial enemies of God’s Kingdom).
Christians can’t continue to find happiness in the same creature-comforts as non-believers. Surveys show most are indistinguishable from their non-Christian neighbors. Other studies have found that those who don’t attend churches generally view them as commercial enterprises seeking worldly objectives. Unless Christians and churches dedicate themselves to pursuing eternal goals around GC3 (Great Commandment, Great Commission, Great Calling), congregations will shrink further in 2024 while the “Nones” (no religion) and “Dones” (with church) will keep growing.
3. Abundant Life Will Be Found in Christ Alone
God’s reality far exceeds the world’s fantasy. In our wildest imagination, we can’t improve upon the greatest example of love humanity has ever encountered – Jesus’ birth, miracles, teachings, death, and resurrection to rescue mankind. To this day, blockbuster movies repeat that storyline – impending destruction by an evil force, arrival of a superhero to save the day, but at the (potential) cost of his/her life. Yet Marvel, nor any other fiction or non-fiction creator, can offer an alternative superior to our Creator’s gift of grace in this life and the next. That doesn’t stop political parties, professors, publications, and even pharmaceuticals from trying – promising the abundant life we “deserve” by diverting our faith, allegiance, and income in their direction.
Flourishing and fulfillment don’t derive from the earthly or fantasy. They come from realizing eternity has already started – we can be in God’s presence now. In fact, Scripture says His presence is the defining characteristic that should make Christians and churches stand out in the crowd. The here and now is a small slice of eternal life – a dot in the line – being in the presence of Jesus post-Ascension through His Holy Spirit, preparing to meet Him face-to-face. We can’t be satisfied with principles and practices of religion that are only a shadow of what is to come. Why settle for garnering the affections of the world in 2024 over basking in (and sharing) the love of Christ, living in His presence?
4. To Find Jesus, People Will Need to See Him in Us
If America senses legalism or anger in our tone about politics or progressives, they’ll miss the opportunity to experience the love of Jesus. People will only see who Christ could be for themselves if they recognize who He is to (and through) us. Humility, compassion, and dying to self should be our predominant response to anti-Christian rhetoric during the 2024 Presidential election and Christmas season. We should forego the air assault of verbal bombs on social media about candidates and launch a ground attack of kindness that demonstrates God’s love to a watching world (#CastAnEternalVote). We should combat the commercialization of Christmas not by boycotting stores but by praying, caring, and sharing the Gospel with our neighbors and coworkers (#GiveAnEternalGift).
Meanwhile, churches should rethink worldly models of operation – processes and metrics designed to attract, retain, grow, and build. But a return to equipping and deploying sold-out disciples won’t occur until churches view members as Kingdom “employees”, challenged to pursue the intended “customer” of church, those who don’t know Jesus. Until then, we’ll continue to ignore the biblical “customer”, who will respond like anyone that experiences poor customer service, and resentfully write off churches as a business that prioritizes profits over people. The decline in the number of churchgoers and churches (from 400k in 1983 to 350k in 2023) could spur greater insecurity and commercial inclinations – or spark revival and church reform.
5. Eternal Living Will Awaken Those Living for Today
Revival is a move of the Lord, but awakening is less likely when those left feeling like “outsiders” by churches seek to be “insiders” somewhere else. As customers (of the world) they have authority and can make demands – becoming arbiters of their own identity, truth, and morality without the “constraints” of Christianity. Attempts to entertain youth or engender loyalty (to a church or pastor) rather than foster life-changing relationships with the Father have made those heading off to college susceptible to absorbing progressive teachings and rejecting the (shallow) “religion” of their parents.
Undeniable depth and enduring hope hinge on Christians and churches conspicuously prioritizing the eternal over temporal. Many pastors don’t encourage eternal thinking because their church needs to survive now, so sermons emphasize what Jesus can do for attenders today (i.e. victory, favor, prosperity). Imagine the impact of congregations full of disciples who care far more about their God-given mission than their personal welfare. Cultural Christians reject calls for an eternal perspective with convenient justifications for focusing all their attention on this life, mocking ethereal conjecture and considering eternal thinkers the “frozen chosen”. Instead, the Christians most apt to leave their comfort zones for the sake of lost souls are those absolutely confident and ecstatic about being with their heavenly Father soon.
It’s Your Turn…
Would placing your security in eternity, the only realm with any certainties, alter your personal New Year’s resolutions or your church’s strategic plans for 2024?