A few random thoughts on New Year resolutions #evangelical

January 2, 2014

If, perhaps, you have already fallen victim to peer pressure and made a New Year’s resolution, you have fallen into the clutches of Satan and are headed straight for the eternal torments of hell. Sorry for the bad news, but everlasting incineration is the fate of all those who make such commitments.

Now that I have your attention, please disregard all of the above. Fire and brimstone does have a certain kind of commercial appeal, but it is usually not necessary or appropriate to pull out the big guns. Let’s talk about this practice without the threat of retribution.

A good many of the New Year promises have to do with losing weight. That’s just how things are and one must admit that most of could stand to drop a few pounds. I am most guilty of this failing and have no intention of making any statements for which I might be held accountable. If one is more respectful of the body with which we will be resurrected, no harm done.

In the twilight of the Christmas season and saturated with sentimentality, many folks decide to take on their relationships, finances, jobs, housing, education, and lots of other things. Sometimes people decide to read the Bible every day, attend church every week, improve their attitude toward some distasteful person, or any number of laudable moral improvements. How can I possibly come out against that?

Our annual resolutions, even the ones made with the finest intentions, point to a fundamental weakness of human nature that could make any of them useless. The problem with us is that we think we are in charge. It is a part of our character to think of ourselves as self-sufficient. This is especially true of Americans, who tend to live in a fairy land of individualism. There is also the problem of being very short-sighted. God is not thinking in terms of year-to-year self-improvement. The Almighty has an eternal purpose in which you are a part. Think about the kind of person you want to be in eternity.

The first humans got in really big trouble when they made the same mistake. Until that little problem with the apple, God had been entirely in charge of moral judgment. He was intimately involved in the daily loves of our first parents and understood that humans tended toward the naive and foolish. God was right at man’s side, helping him along, until the fateful decision was made for human moral independence. The consequence is every kind of outrage that plagues the human journey.

It is the intention of the powerful materialistic forces that rule society to make you believe that you can best chose the love of your life, the education that will guarantee the best job, the automobile that will define your importance, the washer-dryer combination that will always deliver colorful and perfectly cleaned clothes. All of this is yours to decide as a matter of birthright. You are the consummate consumer and producer. Welcome to the real hell!

This is a system in which there is no God, except the omniscient self. Since there is no God, there is no divine image of which man is created. Man exists as the image of his own desires, which is a terrifying prospect. The wishes of the human heart are one thing on Monday and a whole set of different things by the weekend.

The worst part of residing in the modern hell is that the rent is too darned high. It is an endless cycle of producing and consuming. In this world society, we are judged based on how well we produce, and the amount and quality of our production. When the modern American is not worshiping himself, he is bowed low before his stuff.

Evangelicals have bought into this by way of a blind acceptance of the hyper-competative economic system. There seems to be a widely held belief that, if one says a certain kind and variety of prayers and stops by church once or twice a month, the work of spiritual formation is complete. What more could God possibly expect?

Here’s the deal, and you can take it from a fallen human being. God owns everything and he expects us acknowledge his role and connection to everything we possess. I have so much trouble with this, but God expects to be right at the side of every believer and to direct every step we take. He expects to be consulted prayerfully about everything. Mistakes are made, but God allows for “do-overs.” It is called repentance.

The fact of failure is actually a good thing because it keeps the faithful Christian always seeking God’s assistance. This is why we come to the throne of grace boldly talking about our needs and the areas where there is a need for improvement. The Kingdom of God has begun and part of that new thing is the restoration of good relations between the Most High being and humanity who cares about our lives and concerns. There is a divine being, a great High Priest named Jesus, who demands your attention.

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