Today is the last day of 2016—the eve of 2017. Many, if not all churches, will hold watch night services to usher in the new year. These watch night services often attract large numbers of people than any other church meeting usually will. Even those who have never stepped foot in a church throughout the year will show up.
In a certain sense, there is something positive about this because these people still acknowledge there is a God who has seen them through a whole calendar year into a new year and will want to show some appreciation–even if it is lip service–to this God they have no relationship with and don’t obey in their daily living. In our society, almost everybody believes in the existence of God so it is no wonder these services get full at such crucial times of the year. As I said earlier, people who have no relationship with God nonetheless show up in church for 31st December night vigil. This is indeed a great opportunity to point people to Christ. But would Christ be pointed to them? You probably will be a good judge if you will attend any of these meetings.
Considering some of the fanciful themes given to these meetings, one is tempted to believe nothing of gospel substance will be preached. I have taken note of some of these themes:
Night of Power and Prophecy
Night of Signs and Wonders
Exodus Night 2016
No Carry Over 2016
Free Money To Prosper Crossover To Overtake
These are just a few samples of themes, an indication of what will occur in many of these services. If there is anything worth today, we must take the opportunity to point people to Christ. People will show up in our services whose first time of hearing the gospel would be today. What kind of gospel will they hear ? A man centred gospel with everything evolving around man’s needs and how to use God to achieve them or will it be Christ centred with everything evolving around Christ and what He has done to purchase the salvation of sinners? To be sure, prayers will be offered and there will be preaching. But as to whether these will be done in a biblical manner is another question to be answered.
For you as an individual, probably, you might want to ponder what is of utmost importance as you enter the new year. Don’t be carried away by the irreverence of the age. The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives us something to think over as we enter a new year:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God¹, and to enjoy him for ever².
The catechism asks what’s the very reason for our existence? The answer is simply to glorify God and enjoy him for ever. Nothing matters than a life that glorifies God. To glorify God is simply to live lives pleasing to Him. And to enjoy Him is simply to make Him our greatest pursuit and desire. Many people will have many pursuits for 2017 but not a pursuit for growth in their knowledge of God and lives consistent with His calling of us. I hope you will make it your desire to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. For the Christian, this means living in daily obedience and for the unbeliever, it means most importantly, turning to Christ from your sins and making Him Lord over your life. Anything short of this makes your watch night attendance of non-effect. I will love to conclude with these emphatic words from Solomon:
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bringevery deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
1. Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11
2. Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4