We make them every year. Resolute promises to ourselves to be different starting on January 1 of a New Year. As if there’s magic at the stroke of midnight. What’s a Christian to do? ♦
We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions. Some are shared publicly with family, friends and loved ones. Some are kept secret. They can be fun, motivating, and actually intriguing in reflecting one’s acknowledgement of a personal shortcoming, dream or inspiring goal.
Resolutions are often merely secular goals that are physical and action-based self-improvement lists: I want to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, drink less, be kinder, spend less, get out of debt, make new friends, spend more time doing ___. For many they can steer toward spiritual goals: I want to read the Bible more, pray more, go to church more, be a “better Christian,” etc.
New Year’s Resolutions actually have a spiritual origin with the Babylonians prior to the 7th century BC. Then it was about making promises to their pagan gods. This practice has continued over centuries and cultures to reveal man’s desire for repentance and self-improvement.
Regardless of the origin, most resolutions today are fine and worthy aspirations. Most are harmless. Unfortunately, most will fail. A University of Bristol study in 2007 involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year’s Resolutions fail.
I maintain that there are 3 resolutions that every Christian should make.
I maintain that any non-Christian would be wise to understand these.
3 Christian Resolutions
If you net out all the distractions, there are really 3 key resolutions that every Christian should make at the turning of a New Year, if not at the turning of every new day:
1. Follow Jesus. (Abide in the Vine)
This is not your standard religious directive. This is serious acknowledgement of the God/Man who lived 2000 years ago and changed the world. As a Christian, you may believe you already “follow Jesus,” but do you really know what He said, and did, and means to humanity? Following Jesus means to “abide in Him, the Vine” (John 15:1-17), connected like a branch that gets its nourishment for survival from the main source of life. Apart from this connection, the branch withers and dies. Are you connected, abiding, obeying, or going through the motions?
Non-Christians: dealing with the binary decision to follow Jesus or not is, of course, the fundamental decision in your life. You may have disregarded it, forgotten it, rejected it, never heard it, or don’t understand it. It’s never too late to catch up with the truth around the most significant person in human history. It’ll change your life.
2. Talk to Jesus. (Pray without Ceasing)
Far beyond the “I need to pray more” resolution, this is about real, every day conversations with Jesus. No half-baked arrow prayers here, nor rote prayer recitations. And I’m not talking about reading prayers of significant length with fancy words and Christian jargon. I’m referring to a heart, mind and soul relationship with Jesus through His Spirit by way of tapping into the supernatural spiritual realm of prayer. As Christians, we are called to “pray always/without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), that is, constant interaction with the source of life power and engagement that is tangible and available, even if not fully understood. Are you seriously in prayer for all things?
Non-Christians: you may pray to a higher power or god of your choosing or deny the existence of a spiritual dimension beyond our imagination, but again I refer you to Jesus, the elephant in the room issue that won’t easily go away. Brilliant and perfect Jesus prayed and taught us to pray to His Father. Confusion aside, the life and substance of his injection into human history and continued presence, not via Religion, but real spiritual encounters, cannot be denied.
3. Surrender to Jesus (Be a Living Sacrifice)
The hardest resolution is this last one: to surrender lordship and control of your life. To fully let go of the reigns that we hold so tight and release all of one’s life, is the final wall to fall before true rehabilitation takes place. Even as Christians, we mean to surrender “like a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). We give intellectual assent to God/Jesus and the whole Christian works, however, in truth, we still are in the driver’s seat. Jesus may be next to us, but we’re driving. We need to give Him the keys and actually get in the back seat. He will not drive you off the road; He will drive you to places you never would have gone. Have you truly given up and surrendered?
Non-Christians: this one is hard to wrap your head around. This is really about who’s in control. Christians are to relinquish control to God and they struggle still. Non-believers live off their own power, will and desires. How’s that working for you? Maybe well, actually. But again, I’d challenge you to consider Jesus. If nothing else, study the Bible, not books about it. Deal with the text itself about Jesus and let it drive you throughout the New Testament and back into the Old Testament. It’s not a puzzle; it’s a guide for the meaning of life.
Starting the new year with a rejuvenated commitment to abide, pray and surrender to Jesus is really the only thing that ultimately matters in life. This does not mean a submission to a sub-level life. Quite the contrary. It will free you to have the best year of your life, released to your full potential to accomplish the desires of your heart in accordance with a purpose-filled life.
It’s been an especially blessed year. Here’s to an equally blessed New Year to you and yours beyond your wildest expectations.
Have you made New Year’s Resolutions that really matter?
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” – Matthew 16:24-27