On January 1 your whole life can be transformed. For one day at least, all your good intentions can be jump-started, and all your bad habits can be unplugged. At least for a few hours (or minutes?), the year is a perfect reflection of your best self. But January 1 is followed inevitably by January 2 and January 3. Someday soon you will opt for staying in a cozy bed a few more minutes rather than plunging out into the cold on that jog. Pretty soon candy wrappers will start appearing in your desk drawer again. By the 14th or 15th, you will surely have been aggravated enough at a bad driver or a dropped glass or a stubbed toe to have let loose a blue streak of bad words or unsanctified thoughts. By the 17th your socks are back on the bathroom floor and your dental floss is gathering dust. By the 20th you fall asleep before you can even get the Bible open. For all but a few of us, most New Year’s resolutions get packed away with the last of the Christmas decorations. By Epiphany, our behavior and the whole New Year are just as tarnished as they were before January 1st.
The problem with most of our resolutions is that they are too safe, too sensible, and too self-centered. We resolve to make tiny cosmetic changes in our lifestyles – but refuse to consider restructuring our lives and changing the paradigms by which we live. The ultimate New Year’s resolution does not challenge us to cut fat grams, or quit smoking, or get to aerobics class twice a week. The ultimate resolution a Christian can make is to live in the light of divine intentions, not human inventions. The New Year’s resolution to end all resolutions is to live under the umbrella of God’s expectations and to make it my business and your business to be a part of God’s business.
But this just begs a bigger question: What is God’s business? God’s business is transformation. So what does the Christian who resolves to be a part of God’s transforming work on January 1st do on January 2nd (or 3rd or 5th or 17th)? There are two essential requirements: First, we must go deeply into the Word. Second, we must go widely into the world.
What if instead of resolving to lose 10 pounds this year, you resolved to eat according to a diet that could sustain the whole world? What if instead of resolving to get more exercise this year, you resolved to exercise some spiritual muscles and took a Bible study or started to attend Sunday School? What if instead of resolving to spend less time in front of the TV and more time reading some good books, you resolved to teach those struggling with illiteracy to read those books to you? What if instead of resolving to spend more “quality time” with your family, you resolved to take your whole family on a mission project for a week?
Your life, your commitment to the ultimate resolution, can help the love of God through Christ to transform the world. The New Year has begun and lies unblemished before us. What do you resolve to be on January 2 and for the rest of your life?