“New Year, New Me” has been a common phrase this past week with the anticipation of the beginning point of 2018. New Year’s Resolutions are popping up everywhere: exercise programs, diet changes, dating and relationship goals, and social media fasts just to name a few. It’s interesting how the act of the earth fully making its journey around the sun can bring so much hope and rejuvenation to people. People line the streets of NYC to watch a ball drop so that they can begin the year fresh and new.
But I wonder. How many resolutions actually stick? How many days pass without mistakes? How many regrets will take place? How many people will await 2019 with the same anticipation of “new year, new me”, or “next year I will be better, do better, be more”. I’m not trying to make this blog negative. I’m just wanting to be real, and I think you might just be nodding your head in agreement.
Newness, anticipation and hope fills the air. As we begin our resolutions, or search for answers for our questions, longings and dreams of this year, so often these things are approached with the concept that we’re almost like a new person. Or wanting to be “new”. But at the end of the day, we realize we have goals. Maybe even good goals that we actually achieve. But 2018 will be another year that will be mixed with joy and sorrow. Peace and suffering.
So in the midst of making our way through resolutions and as we try (and possibly fail) at them, it’s reassuring that as followers of Jesus, we don’t become a “new person” with each passing year. There’s not major pressure to have only 365 days of making ourselves new only to hit the repeat button at the turn of 2019. We became a new person once we turned toward Heaven and said “Thy will be done”.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Our newness already happened. We are made new because of Christ. Our past is forever behind us and everyday, not just every new year, we have the opportunity to look ahead. It’s a journey though, the journey of sanctification. Not becoming “new” all the time, but deepening our love for God and growing in our obedience and dependence upon Him.
So in this New Year, I have decided to challenge myself and I’m challenging you to begin an internal resolution before adding on all the possible external resolutions. My challenge to myself is to begin with reflection of my own heart, and to reflect Jesus in everything I say, in everything I do, and in every interaction I have with people more in 2018 than I did in 2017.
That is my resolution.
Ok. You may be thinking that sounds like a good idea, but reflecting Jesus is a pretty broad statement. Good thought. I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t fully know what this resolution will look like. However, I am certain of three things: 1) Satan will not like it which gives me reason to stay on guard; 2) I am a selfish human and will undoubtedly fail at keeping my resolution for 365 days straight; 3) The Bible is a map for our journey, and it’s pretty clear on explaining the kinds of things that accurately reflect Christ.
Curious? Good. Let me unpack this.
One of my favorite passages is from Colossians chapter three. Like clothing that we put on every morning, Paul instructs us with what God–glorifying characteristics we should put on or adorn ourselves with. And people *generally* keep their clothes on all day. So, when he said “put on”, I think he means “stay on”. And this is my prayer for myself these next 365 days is that I will keep these on.
Colossians 3:12-15 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
So how will my New Year’s Resolution of reflecting Jesus look like?
Dear Jesus, I want to be more like you. Help me, by your grace, reflect you to all people and in all circumstances.
Help me in 2018 to:
Have a heart full of compassion instead of coldness
Be kind instead of bitter
Be humble and meek instead of proud
Be patient instead of rushed or anxious
Be there for anyone who needs me at anytime, instead of being tied to my own agenda. Help me bear with people including loving the un-lovable, without caring what others may think of me
Be forgiving instead of holding grudges
Be loving – real and genuinely loving that points people to You instead of being cheap or insincere with my love
Be peaceful instead of anxious
Be thankful instead of an ungrateful consumerist
Verses 16-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Keeping our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus is the only way we can apply the list above to our lives. At least, it’s the only way I can apply the list to my life. And I am ok with that. If Jesus is telling me to do everything in word and deed in His name, then I don’t know about you, but I certainly want to be as sure as I can to properly reflect Him to all those around me. And thanks be to God that the act of reflecting Him isn’t some aloof concept that we try to grasp, but that He was kind enough to give us clear characteristics of how to adorn ourselves everyday in order to best reflect Christ.
The hard thing for me will actually be maintaining this resolution, just like everyone else in their own New Years Resolutions. My prayer is that I will not be quick to fall off track. But even when I do – and I will because I am a selfish human – I thank God for the grace He gives and that His map will always stay open before me. It’s just my job to decide if I am willing and ready to daily read this map and follow the directions.
Happy New Year to all! May the Lord’s richest blessings be upon you and yours.