It is almost unbelievable that the year 2013 is about to come to a close. They say time moves faster and faster as you get older. This has certainly been true for me this year. Some of us have had a great year and some have had a year they wish they could forget. For those who have had a hard year, the thought of a New Year seems to bring a degree of hope, as fleeting as it may be.
Because of this, there is a great deal of excitement that surrounds the ringing in of the New Year. For those who still stay up until “the ball drops,” the first second of the New Year is welcomed with laughter and celebration. There is something special about the fact that one chapter of time has closed and another one lays open to us. We cannot rewrite the past, but we have a large say in how we write the future.
Because we want the next chapter to be better than the last, we make New Years’ resolutions. We look at our lives and choose areas in which we want to improve, or focus on areas that are of particular interest to us. It is like a fresh slate, a chance to clear the board and make big changes for the better.
Many people resolve to adopt healthier eating and exercise habits. Some want to get more organized. Some focus on career advancement while others have intellectual goals. The good news is, these are all noble and beneficial pursuits.
The bad news is, the numbers do not lie. The majority of people who set resolutions at the New Year do not follow through with them. There is a lot of excitement while the year is still “new,” but the excitement gradually wears off as the reality of everyday life sets in.
One thing that never gets old for me is being a Christian. Making the resolution to follow Jesus Christ is a resolution I could make every day for eternity. Christianity is a faith of “new” things. The Apostle Paul declared by inspiration that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The New Living Translation renders the latter part of that verse, “The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Christ offers a new life, literally. Therefore, every day of life that is in Him is a day of renewal and victory over the old, dead and empty way of living.
The Bible is full of references to things “new.” In the Creation account of Genesis 1, God creates a new world out of nothing. Everything began new. However, things quickly deteriorated as sin entered the world through the Fall of Genesis 3. As a result, the world was in need of restoration and renewal, that came through Jesus Christ.
In fact, in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, the prophet foretold of a “new Covenant,” which references the New Covenant that Christ established (Jeremiah 31:31). This covenant is based upon the “new doctrine,” which was taught by Jesus (Mark 1:27).
Christians are to act based on Christ’s new commandment (John 13:34-35). Those who are Christians are to “take off” the old, sinful way of living and “get dressed” in the new, faithful way of living (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Christians have the hope of a new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13), the new Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12), where we will sing a new song (Revelation 5:9) and where Christ continues to make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Not all who read this will agree with me, but the most important resolution anyone can ever make is to follow Jesus Christ. In fact, if Christianity is true (and, of course, I believe that it is), then it is also the only resolution that really matters in the big scheme of things.
In Christ, life takes on a whole new meaning and purpose. It feels like all the longings that have been felt in the deepest recesses of one’s being have been met and it fits like a puzzle piece. At the end of time, the only thing that will matter is how we responded to Christ.
Consider the words of the Hebrews writer: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV).
I talk to a lot of people who I believe, deep down, know they need to respond to Jesus but there is something holding them back. For some it is the guilt of past sins. For others, it is the grip of a sin they are living in.
Still some fear changing their lifestyle. If this is you, dear reader, understand that Jesus offers true renewal that does not fade away with time. Obeying the gospel of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9) is the best resolution one could ever make and it is available to all, regardless of the past.
At the ending of Leon Bloy’s The Woman Who Was Poor it says, “in the end of life contains only one tragedy: not to have been a saint.” Amen.
Torrey Clark is the preacher for the church of Christ Northside (www.churchatlagrange.org) and host of the weekly Christian worldview talk show, Culture Shock (www.thelightnetwork.tv/shows). Clark may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-812-9950.