What 2018 Holds For Us: The Upside

Joe Henegan | December 28th 2017

Over the next few days we’ll see the usual deluge of year reviews on our screens - countdown articles on our devices and the obligatory talking-head shows on our TVs. And we’ll also see lots of predictions for the future. Past nostalgia. Future hopes, dreams, and warnings.

So, let’s add our own thoughts to this as we look forward. What can Christians expect in the coming year year? In this the first of a three part series on what awaits us in 2018, we think about the upside.

2018 will the best year to be a Christian. It might not feel like it is, but we truly stand on the shoulders of giants. We enjoy a library of works from generations of faithful Christians before us, and we can access these resources within seconds. This became apparent to me as we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in October. Although the reformation is definitely not finished, we do enjoy the privilege of having had some major theological battles already fought before we were born. We can start 2018 with confidence that our faith is tried, tested and solid, and get on with the job of giving, growing and glorifying God as we share the Gospel with our hurting, needy world..

There’s a lot to be excited about as we face a new year of Gospel growth worldwide.

Better physical health for some of us. Earlier this month, we saw a significant scientific breakthrough in the prevention of Huntington’s disease which experts say could be the biggest development in neurodegenerative diseases for 50 years. More recently breakthroughs in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes have been heralded which promise a more active life for millions of people in their 60s and older.

Victim power is on the rise. The sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood and the media are empowering victims more than ever to come forward and it is provoking our society to ask some serious questions of itself. As Christians we believe in justice, and rejoice in the empowerment of people to bring their just cause to light. The continued effectiveness of media and social media to promote justice and expose inequality and wrong should be a continuing cause of joy for us.

Technology will continue to transform ordinary lives. Futuroligst Gerd Leonhard suggests that humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 300 years. The so called ‘Internet of things’ means that billions of devices across the world are now connected. He says:

“Science fiction is really becoming science fact. The things that have kept a limit on change - the size of a [computer] chip, the speed of the network - these things will all be removed...we’ll have virtually unlimited computing power in the mobile phone.”

And children are coding! Through wonderful apps like Scratch, kids as young as 4 can use basic programming language to code their own games. Some older children are using code to change their communities and coding toys will be some of the most coveted presents under Christmas trees this year.

As Christians we should not be fearful of these developments. Sometimes believers can adopt the default position of being naysayers to anything new, perhaps because we think they present some new opportunity for evil, or because we cannot see how the Scriptures speak into the questions they raise. But because our confidence is in God and the gospel, we can embrace them for how they can serve the Gospel cause, and work hard at understanding the challenges and opportunities they present for human flourishing.

The gospel will grow. In our increasingly pagan and atheistic western nations, we have felt beleaguered for a long time. But there are exciting and wonderful signs that God’s work continues and grows. New church plants, greater creativity in evangelistic outreach and a renewed commitment to showing the love of Jesus in very practical ways all point to the truth that Jesus promised: that he would build his church, and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against (Matthew 16 v 18)

And not just in the west. 2018 will see the continued explosive growth of new Christians in Africa, China, India and other parts of the world. There’s a lot to be excited about as we face a new year of Gospel growth worldwide.

If all that sounds horrifically positive to you, tune in to The Good Book Blog tomorrow for some thoughts about the difficulties that 2018 will bring to us...

Joe Henegan

Joe is our Vice President of Marketing. He lives in South London, UK with his wife and two daughters and is a member at River Church Sutton - part of the Newfrontiers network - where he runs a small group and various outreach activities.