Each year major dictionaries such as Websters, Collins and Oxford select an iconic word from the previous year as their Word of the Year. Based upon internet searches and published usage they select a word which depicts, or bespeaks the tone of our culture; at the very least it addresses our focus or concern, or preoccupation over the previous 12 months.
This year Webster’s has chosen Gaslighting as their Word of the Year. Gaslighting is defined as unrestrained lying, in order to fear-monger or manipulate someone into compliance. In 2021 the word was Insurrection; In 2020–Covid/Pandemic; pronouns in 2019; fake news in 2017; hashtag–2013; occupy in 2012; bailout in 2008; and Y2K in 1999. Collins opted for Permacrisis in 2022 as their #2 choice. And, Oxford went with Metaverse for 2022.
What is telling as much as the words that are on the list, is those that are not on the list, such as: Peace, Success, Holiness, or Righteousness. It is obvious that people are not consumed with that class of words. I think; wouldn’t it be great to see Salvation, Jesus Christ, or Redemption top the charts on any given year? But alas, our world has at its focus something other than our Savior, something other than, “that which is true, whatever is dignified, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, excellent, and whatever is worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
My guess is that it has been that way for quite a while as people focus themselves on the profane. As a result, what I have noticed over the last several years is a spirit of hopelessness. May I suggest that the level of hopelessness is, and will be directly affected by the object of affection? The world will never have true hope as long as it continues to gaze upon something other than Christ as the object of that HOPE; money, power, pleasure, or people do not have the gravitas to deliver nor sustain true hope. The Church should set the example, and we do, but in order to do that the Church needs to live in contrast with the world in regards to the objects of their affections. Sometimes, sadly, we begin to look in the same direction as the unbelieving world.
Scripture sets the direction of our gaze in Psalm 121:1-2:
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from Yahweh,
Who made heaven and earth.
The Psalmist poses the question (and answer) from where he will find his hope (help). Where his hope (help) will come from is the Creator of Heaven and Earth; His name is Yahweh! What better focus of hope could there be? And that pinnacle of hope and help is found in the finished work of Christ.
As we consider the two destinies of the future, only one, by the Narrow Road (through Jesus Christ), places us in perpetual intimate relationship with God. The other, by the Wide Road (any other way) ultimately delivers us to absence of God in perpetual judgment (Hell).
As we eventually find ourselves standing before the Almighty, we cannot claim our own beauty to gain entry into His presence. We cannot stand upon our own “good works.” We cannot rest upon titles or degrees or pedigrees. Our only hope is to stand in the blood of Christ.
The old hymn perhaps says it best!
My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
His oath, his covenant, His blood,
support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand:
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
Now that is what I call steadfast HOPE!
As we embark on another year filled with challenges and uncertainty, may our gaze be steadfast upon Christ; may our Word of the Year before us be Hopeful!