The New Year
I came across some worldling’s definition of New Year’s Eve. He defined it as the ceremonial passage from one year to another that involves a sanctioned party which makes way for another 365 years of drudgery and responsibility. How different this is from the Christian perspective which views things with God as the priority so that one can say “You crown the year with Your goodness . . .” (Psalm 65:11).
It is not only at the ending and beginning of a year that tension between life’s two basic philosophies is evident. There is constant tension between the God-centered philosophy and the world-centered philosophy. James wrote, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). The world in which you and I live is ideally suited for the accomplishment of the basic purpose which God had in creating it. The divine purpose involved in the creation of the world exclusively includes the world as the ideal environment for soul-making. For some people, the world “veils” the true God (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4). For others, the world “reveals” the true God (cf. Romans 1:20).
Jesus does not send people to a monastery or convent when they become His disciples. It is essential that disciples are regularly, capably, and thoroughly taught good doctrine (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2), and also trained to go into the world with the Gospel. Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil. . . . They are not of the world. . . . As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-18). Practical Christianity implies a balance between being in the world but not of the world. The journey from physical birth to an eternity with the Creator entails passing through a “vale of soul-making” (i.e. the world). This does not mean one becomes so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good. C. S. Lewis wrote, “It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. . . . It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in:’ aim at earth and you will get neither” (104).
Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. 1943. New York: MacMillan, 1958.