With the start of another year, comes the inevitable new years resolutions. Have you made any changes with the new year?
What’s a year from the perspective of eternity?
We’ve just entered the year 2018, we’re celebrating two thousand and eighteen years (give or take) since Jesus entered the world and changed history. It also happens to be the thirty-seventh year that I’ve inhabited the earth, the hundredth year since the end of the First World War, and two hundred and thirty years since the First Fleet arrived on Australia’s shores.
But all of these are just arbitrary measurements, are they not? December 31 was still 9 days ago; it wasn’t a year ago. Just because we’ve changed the last number in the date column doesn’t change the length of time on a different scale, does it?
But it’s a new year…
From our perspective, of course, it does all matter. That’s why, on January 1 each year, thousands of people decide they’re going to go to the gym more often, or stop drinking, or read their bible every day. Whatever our new years resolution happens to be, we have this incredible idea that it matters to start on January 1 of a new year – and then, when we inevitably falter in that resolution, the argument can quite easily be to start again next year.
We act as though the change has to happen overnight, and that as the new year begins, we become some kind of new person.
That simply doesn’t happen, though, does it?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
We can sometimes run into this same problem with our Christian walk. We look at the day of our salvation as a new beginning in our lives – and it certainly is that. However, we aren’t mystically changed in that moment into a perfect, sinless being.
As Christians, we still stumble, don’t we? We come to Christ, and become a new creation, but at the same time, we don’t always get it right. That’s not an aspersion on anyone, even Paul lamented in chapter 7 of his letter to the Romans that he would struggle to do the things that he wanted to do, and instead kept doing what he hated doing.
I know I feel grateful to think that even Paul felt constrained by the sin that continued to happen in his life, even after being saved.
The new year does matter…
A new year does still feel like a new beginning, though. My nephew is entering high school this year, and he took great pride in telling me on January 1 how he is now officially a 7th grader, because the New Year has begun. It didn’t matter that he’d completed grade six several weeks earlier, nor does it matter that he hasn’t officially started at the new school, the important factor was the number at the end of the date column – in 2018, he is a seventh grade student.
As a new year approaches, I don’t like to set new years resolutions, but toward the end of 2016, I started doing something different. In November of that year, during a period of reflection over where my life was at, I felt God inspiring me toward a specific theme for the coming year. That theme was Still I Rise, which was a phrase that got me through a number of struggles throughout 2017, a year that didn’t exactly go anywhere near how I had planned. In 2018, I’ve done the same thing, setting a new theme for this year, and tying it to a number of goals for the year.
Aren’t goals the same as new years resolutions?
Of course, some may suggest that I’m playing semantics here. After all, aren’t goals the same as resolutions, just with a different name?
Maybe they are; but no, they’re not. The thing about how we treat New Years Resolutions, is that, as I mentioned above, they have this requirement to be the way that we plan on living the year to come. In setting the goals I have for this year, I’m not saying that I need to implement an immediate change, but rather, I have something I am intending on achieving by the end of the year. If I stumble, then it’s okay, I just get up and keep going, because the idea is to have implemented the change by the time we reach December 31 of this year, not to be perfect from the beginning.
Which is just the perspective that I believe we should have when it comes to our walk with God, too. Everyone stumbles in their faith, in their lives, in their attitudes, their behaviours, their thoughts, and so on. Everyone does. Our walk as Christians is not about being perfect; it’s about becoming more like Christ. Even in the final minutes of our lives, we won’t be there, but we strive toward it nonetheless. Not because it’s required of us, but because we seek to emulate the example of righteousness that Christ laid before us when he dwelt here as a human some 2018 (or so) years ago.
So as we enter 2018, let’s remember that this is just another step on the journey. Perhaps you’d like to share what theme or goals you have for this year in the comments below. It’s great to share with one another what God is doing in our lives!