What goes through your mind when you finish the last page of your life- controlling calendar? Do you say to yourself “Ahhhh… A clean slate. I can start fresh with all my new thoughts and goals for the future.”? Most of you will make new resolutions and you’ll attempt to initiate new habits. And once again, you will aspire to put your best foot forward.
Before we do that, let’s remind ourselves of our back story.
It’s a very human thing for us to want to be better and to strive for more. After all, we are created in the image of God. However, we have a very inconvenient truth in our history… our ancient ancestors determined that bearing the image of God was not enough. They wanted to be God. They sought equality with God.
Maybe that’s part of our problem. Reaching, striving. But isn’t this where things went wrong? Our ancestors reached for the forbidden fruit. It wasn’t just an apple they were reaching for. They were reaching for equality with God. “The snake said to the woman, ‘You won’t die! God knows that on the day you eat from it, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Ge 3:4-5 CEB) The snake had a very convincing argument, didn’t he? But, sooner or later, that argument leads to failure. Not simply a let-down, rather an epic failure. Because, by definition, God has no equal. Ever since that fateful day in the Garden, we live fully in the essence of sin – not trusting in the trustworthiness and goodness of God. By doing this we have set a course in search of another god, and even worse, we seek to become our own god. It has been proven time and again that as humans we do fine, as a god we do horrible and as we continue on this self-destructive course, we become horrible humans as well.
We were not created in His image to be Him, but to worship Him. It is here that we learn that He has been reaching for us all along. That’s who Jesus is. He’s God reaching out to us. He came to us, where we are. It’s this reaching out on His part that restores us to His intended purpose for us. In His reaching, He reminds us to strive to be in His image. To think and to act and to love like He does. Philippians 2:5-11 gives us a great picture of this. “5Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: 6Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. 7But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, 8he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, 10so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (CEB) He reaches out to transform our minds, where our aspirations and our affections live. This is the place from where our hopes and resolutions come. It is where our character is formed and transformed. This is from where the fruit comes.
Rather than starting out this New Year with resolutions that will probably go by the wayside come Valentine’s Day, what might happen if we started out the year on our knees, reminding one another of God’s mercy, grace, and faithfulness? What if we stopped reaching for the stars and bowed down before the one true and living God? What if instead of getting ourselves fired up – once again – to be a confident force in life, why not renew our faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit? What if we began the year with repentance, forming our hearts and minds according to the things that matter most?