Resolution for the New Year

My health club has been a little busier this week than normal. All the New Year resolutions have been made and now people are trying to live up to them. We have vowed to lose weight, save more money, get that degree, go on that vacation. Or, as a friend resolved several years ago, we have resolved to eat ice cream every day. There is something inspiring about starting off the year with a clean slate and a new goal. Everything is new and clean and bright, like the fresh falling snow this week.

I like resolutions and new beginnings. I thought about comparing these new beginnings at self-improvement to the gospel and the repeated second chances God offers to us. But, when I wrote self-improvement and gospel, the two words don’t fit well together. Not that the gospel is not about making us into better 'you’s and 'me’s, but because our resolutions so rarely line up with the values and goals of God.

So much of what I resolve to do, whether it is losing weight or paying off a debt, exercising more or reading more good books, makes me look better in the eyes of our world. My goals often look awfully similar to the goals of someone who doesn’t know Jesus. My goals remind me how far I have to go to take on the mind and values of Christ. 

This is how Paul, the great evangelist, describes himself and by extension his understanding of the successful Christian life in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10:

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Paul casts quite a vision of a beaten, abuse, rejected man. And yet, he knows he possesses everything that matters. This vision of the good life does not look much like the American dream or my usual resolutions. But, it fits well with the call of Jesus to take up our cross and follow him. If I have the courage, that is my resolution this year: each day, to take up my cross and follow where Jesus leads.

   © zion reformed church 2012