A Response Rubric for 2024
As we conclude our series on courageous resilience in 2024, let’s discuss our response to the trends. While the five trends we covered in part two are not exhaustive, I expect them to be accurate. Still, the question remains, in light of these snow fall predictions, how do we respond? How do mature Christians, ready for battle with the forces of darkness, prepare for the secular age we live in? Happily, the Apostle Peter wrote a letter with this goal in mind. Peter expounds a message to Christians and churches under persecution (Far greater than ours!) during the first century. He writes to cultural exiles. How does Peter exhort the believers? He provides a response rubric in 1 Peter 4:7-11:
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
The end of all things is at hand. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Until he does, Peter offers a rubric for navigating 2024 in America. In this moment, we are “stewards of God’s grace.” I believe Peters shows us a rubric for navigating our times, which I will call “The Five C’s of Cultural Engagement.”
First, CLARITY. Peter says we need to be “self-controlled and sober-minded.” In other words, you need to think clearly about the issues. You need to see them rightly in light of God’s Word and the Gospel. Too often we become distracted and enticed by the world’s offering and systems. Don’t fall for the wisdom of the world—pursue the wisdom from above (James 3)! When you are thinking clearly, you will also speak clearly and with conviction to those in your orbit. Where do you need clarity for 2024?
Second, CULTURE. This one may seem obvious. If you are doing cultural engagement, you need to think about culture! However, we live in a visual, narrative culture where messages are often passively received rather than critically evaluated. Every show you watch, every song you listen to, every advertisement you see and, increasingly, every post you receive on social media has an agenda. They have message. They are trying to capture your heart. The way to combat this is to know the end of the true story. Jesus wins. Jesus will come back. The “end of all things is at hand,” so do not settle for the lies of the moment. Know the culture and expose the idols that have gripped our hearts. Daniel Strange wrote a wonderful book entitled, Plugged In, which can teach you how to do this.
Third, CREED. Throughout church history, theologians and church leaders have gathered to make a statement of belief. Pastor Dave Hentschel famously said, “you have to dig into a creed.” A creed is a statement of what we believe. They are filled with theology. They were passed down for teaching the next generation the truth about Jesus. When you are engaging the culture, you need to know what you believe. The Apostles Creed begins this way, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord […]” Think about the theological truths that are packed in that statement alone. A secular person might say, “How can you believe God made the world? That’s ridiculous!” How would you respond? To be a “steward of God’s varied grace” is to be someone who shares the Gospel, with love and clarity.
Fourth, COUNSEL. This point is something desperately needed in today’s world. People are hurting and lonely—the statistics bear that out. People don’t feel heard. The breakdown of institutions has left people without community. The rise of no-fault divorce has ruptured the family system. The church has the opportunity to step in and offer something different. Peter tells us to “love one another earnestly.” He tells us to show “hospitality without grumbling.” One of the best apologetics you have in 2024 is to show hospitality and love. When you do that, it opens the door to conversation and counsel around life issues. Could we become warm and hospitable people in 2024? As Rosario Butterfield has written, “The Gospel Comes With a House Key.” A hospitable spirit opens a door for the Gospel. That’s the hope for 2024.
Finally, COURAGE. The reality is that all of this requires courage. In 1 Peter 3:15, the Apostle tells us “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect […] (NIV).” This is the quintessential passage for the apologist. If you want to have this courage, what do you need? First, give your heart to Jesus as LORD. Second, be prepared to share. About what? Hope. As such, third, people need to see hope within you. How do you share? With gentleness and respect. There is a time to confront with the truth, but always do so courageously with gentleness and respect. Do not engage the world because you want their respect. Rather, share the Gospel because Jesus has your heart and you are serving him alone.
Glory & Dominion
This article made many predictions. Some may happen, others may not. Either way, snow is coming in 2024. How much? We do not know. Still, we must be ready. We must clearly know our calling this year. As we close, 1 Peter 4:11 offers a purposeful outline: “To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
This is Peter’s summary statement after he tells us how to engagement the culture. God needs to get the glory. God is in control no matter what. This year, it will be tempting to think the sky is falling. We will be enticed to believe that God is not in control and we need another savior. Both of those statements are false. Instead, if you want to live with courageous resilience, you must ask two questions constantly:
Where can God get the glory? Am I trusting that He has Dominion?
Glory and dominion. That is the bedrock of courageous resilience. My prayer is that we would be people who point others to God’s glory, who trust in God’s dominion, and who engage the skeptic in 2024 and beyond.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part three of the three part series on courageous resilience in 2024.