Monday, 20 January 2020
YOU are a week in. What is it for you? New gym regime? New attitude at work? Dry January? Sugar-free January? Caffeine-free January? Spend less? Eat less? Smartphone less? Moan less? Invest more in your marriage? Invest more in your kids? Invest more in your own mental wellbeing? Stop bitching? Stop shouting? Stop worrying? Start running? Start walking? Start yoga?
So, how’s it going? New year’s resolutions come around every year. This time around it’s not just a new year but a new decade.
But the basic fact of new year’s resolutions is that we have to make them every year. We gradually and inevitably slide back and need yet another reboot.
Of course, there are some things that are nice-to-haves but not exactly essential — more exercise, better diet etc. But there are some things about ourselves that are more destructive, that we find deeply frustrating, and that we can’t seem to avoid. My temper, my anxiety, my self-centredness.
The good news Jesus came to bring that first Christmas, and which is still on offer to all today, is dynamite in this context.
Because he didn’t come with a list of religious “new year’s resolutions” we need to keep: be better, be kinder, give more to charity, attend more religious events.
Jesus came with something much more radical, the offer of renewal: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1: 12-13)
We may be stuck. But Jesus came to give us the most radical of new starts: a new birth. A whole new being.
That may sound eccentric, or perhaps a little weird. But ask anyone who has trusted and followed Jesus and they will tell you how it has happened in their own lives.
It doesn’t fix all of the frustrations overnight but this new birth does bring us into a life-changing reality: knowing God as our Father, Jesus as our friend and saviour and the Holy Spirit as our companion and guide.
It’s a new life in which we can enjoy complete forgiveness, freedom from addictions and habits that have left us trapped and a new eternal future.
Press on, by all means, with the new year’s resolutions but don’t miss the offer of becoming a whole new you. That’s the good news Jesus holds out to each of us at the start of 2020.
13 January 2020
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