The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Keys to a Happy New Year in 2018

Posted on: January 01, 2018


As I did last week, I’m posting a day early this week in order to wish a Happy New Year to our blog readers from countries all over the world!

There are three keys to having a happy New Year in 2018.

The first key is having the right definition of success.  We tend to look to favorable circumstances as our basis for a happy life.  If so, however, we are at the mercy of unavoidable health, financial, or other circumstantial setbacks.  If we change our perspective, we can have a “happy” year nevertheless.

I define success as:  Being faithful to God and leaving the results to Him!

The second key is focusing on the right priorities.  To focus on money or health or success may not be wrong, but we cannot tie our happiness to them if we cannot control them.  Instead, two “can’t miss” priorities are to focus on relationships with God and people.

St. Augustine said that we were made for God and our souls are restless until we find our rest in Him. In pursuing a closer relationship with God, we are focusing on the first priority of a “happy” life, and circumstances need not interfere with our growing relationship with God.  In fact, they can help (James 1:2-4).

We must also focus on our relationships with people.  When we strip down everything to the basics, happiness requires knowing that we are not alone, knowing that we are loved, and knowing that we belong.  Focusing on relationships over circumstantial success, instead of sacrificing relationships to have circumstantial success, is a requirement for a happy New Year (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

The third key is having the right strategy.  The right strategy for a happy New Year is to put all our eggs in the “eternal” basket… living one’s life in light of eternal truth and values.  This has two implications:

  1. External: we live our lives to advance God’s spiritual Kingdom rather than our own personal “kingdom.”
  2. Internal: we welcome trials as gifts to help us become more Christlike, rather than resenting them because they interfere with our earthly goals.

This is perhaps the single most subtle and sophisticated challenge of the Christian life, because it goes 180° in the opposite direction of our natural inclinations. It flies in the face of everything we learn from culture. It takes such extraordinary discernment to “get it.”

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house.  At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you kew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.  But presently He starts  knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense.  What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.”

God always has our ultimate best interests in mind, but he often uses failure in temporal things in order to give us greater eternal gifts. If we accept that transforming from living for temporal values to eternal values is actually in our best interests, then we can grow strong and agile and powerful, spiritually. In doing so, we can have a Happy New Year regardless of circumstances!

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