New Year’s Eve on a Sunday – the biggest party day of the year on the most reverent day of the week. If you find this juxtaposition somehow incompatible then maybe it is time to rethink how you “party.” (If, in fact the word “party” can be used as a verb – I am fairly certain there are several English teachers in my past that would frown on such usage.)
Regardless of such musings this is a time when we all attempt to turn over a new leaf, to assess and repair, to resolve to be better. Most times we fail. God promises we can be new people (II Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.) so why do we so often fail in our efforts to change?
I think this morning of a distant and long time friend that has struggled with addiction for years. It seems like about every 3 months he sobers up and there are several weeks of great stuff and then he gets silent. And then a couple of weeks later, he re-emerges and you can tell the booze is back. That promise of all new things just does not seem to come true. I hope and pray that your resolutions this years are less dramatic and less consequential, but I wonder if your odds of success are any better?
You see, I cannot help but notice that the promise of new creation is conditional…
…”if anyone is in Christ….” I am reminded of a similar scripture about getting things done, also conditional – Phil 4:13 – I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
These are interesting conditions because they are not really about us, they are about God. We cannot become new, we can only be made new. We cannot do anything, but God can. The simple fact is that the more we focus on ourselves, the less likely we are to succeed. If we rely on God success is inevitable.
One therefore becomes tempted to resolve to spend more time focusing on God, in scripture, in prayer – but then one is still resolving to do something, to rely on my discipline, not God’s power. They say “Let go and let God,” and I get it, but it is also trite. I think the real key here is to risk. True reliance on God means not going as far as we can, but going one step further, risking that which we do not believe we can do. And it is not about intent or resolution, it is about action.
I like that “Risk and Rely.”