I was once visiting with good friend of mine (a colleague in ministry) and we were discussing the theme of evangelism – exploring some of the finer points of seeking to share the good news of the gospel with others. We were talking about the vague and nebulous parameters of trying to help others. Where do you draw the lines? If someone is a Christian but has different (and in one’s view, lesser or inadequate understandings), do we try and further convert them, or trust in God to work it out? Do we have the right and responsibility to (in our view) straighten them out, or do we consider the main objective – faith in Christ – to have already been addressed?
I do not recall where our discussion wound up that day, but I do recall one simple phrase he offered that has stuck with me through all these years. He said, “Well, I think there is something inherently evangelistic in the gospel.”
In the same way that the good news of what God has offered in Christ is something that inherently and naturally fits with telling, sharing and spreading, I think there is also something very close to the gospel that fits with the idea of a new year. There is something inherently “gospel” in the themes we think of when celebrating New Years.
Think about it: the past is gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is hope, there is optimism, there is a resolve to change. (Joshua 1:9, Jeremiah 29:11). Who and how we have been is not how and who we need to be, and we need not be held captive by our mess-ups, sins, failures, or even by the opinion of others who may harbor such recollections about us (John 8:1-11).
I made it to almost 10 o’clock pm on December 31st. (It’s been several years since I made it to midnight… but then again, I was up at 4:30 am on January 1!) I don’t drink alcohol, so there was none of that. Georgia and I did not party wildly, but I do continue to revel in my new years’ celebrating. It gives me a glimpse of a wonderful truth that is liberating and energizing. It’s the gospel.