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Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 2012

Happy New Year! You know what that means: time for resolutions! Do any of you actually still make New Year's resolutions? I used to think it was so important for me to make a New Year's resolution and stick to it. And I would... for about three weeks (if I am being generous!). But typically I find that my resolutions would be very short lived. By late January, it was life as usual. Nothing had really changed. Just another empty resolution. Now as I go into a New Year, I find myself thinking that such resolutions are pointless!

I wonder if we don't act this same way in our Christian walk. Does your faith often feel like a bunch of false starts and failed resolutions? Jesus has called us to love our enemies and so we set out to be more loving to that person in the office who just makes our lives miserable only to find ourselves more angry. Or, we see how Jesus is often by himself in prayer and we know that St. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing so we decide to wake up a little earlier for prayer time every day, only to find that we are completely in love with warm blankets and snooze buttons. Or, we know we need to share our faith with our non-Christian friends and loved ones and so we set out to present the gospel to them, only to find ourselves backing down when the opportunity arises. Our well-intentioned spiritual aspirations end up being more failed resolutions.

Upon realizing our failure we are tempted to either make excuses in an effort to justify ourselves or we sulk in the frustration over our inability to follow through. What if, instead, we turned to Jesus? We won't, typically, run to Jesus in these moments because something makes us think that He too will be disappointed in our false starts. But, I actually think this is to misunderstand the very God we serve! You see, we do not serve a God who resolves to do His best to love us if we are doing our best to be good Christians. We have a God who promises to love us on account of everything Jesus has done for us already! He is not a God of resolutions, but of promises. Fulfilled promises. He has promised to love you, not because you are so dedicated and successful in all your spiritual endeavors, but simply because you have been adopted into His family. God is fully pleased with you, not because of anything you have done, but because of what Jesus has done for you! Jesus didn't make some empty resolution about making this world a better place, He resolved to go to the cross so that He would remove your failures and sins. He rose again from the dead, not just to show you how to be successful in your resolutions, but to make all things new! You and I included!

In Christ you are a new creation! As far as God is concerned (and He is concerned pretty far... all the way into eternity), you are not a failure, but a beloved child. The good news is that you will always struggle to be a better Christian, just as you will struggle to be better at anything in your life. How is that good news? It is good news because you will live out that struggle while you are firmly held in the nail-pierced hand of your Lord, Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is what we need to hear as we move into the new year. We don't need to make any more shaky resolutions. Instead, we need to hear that whatever successes or failures we encounter in the next year, we will encounter them as God's new creatures, His beloved children!

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