I bet you’ve forgotten about yours already, haven’t you?
Or maybe you didn’t make any in the first place.
I think one of the main reasons resolutions fail is because they are usually profound, life-changing decisions made in obligation at a pre-planned season in time. The very concept of it deviates from the sense of organic living we’ve come to find most effective, and more often than not, our hearts are not ripe with the grace needed to conform to our good intentions.
Resolutions made at the turn of the year tend to sound more like “confessionals” cast in a positive light than true resolve.
Add that to the fact that our life turns are being made en masse with the rest of the population because it is dictated by a calendar, and the sense of emptiness is only amplified. There seems to be a general understanding that New Years Resolutions rarely bring true, noteworthy change.
With these things embraced in mind and heart, I still find the beginning of the year a good time to be intentional about priorities, goals, and dreams, at least in part because of some advice I was given. The advise didn’t have anything to do with New Years Resolutions per se, but I find it applicable. It proposed I step back and see my life and decisions with a wider angle, considering my personal goals in light of the global Church.
It asked me to consider how my actions had a wider impact.
When I lay this filter over my resolution making, it feels like a small act of worship… an offering to God… a seeking first of His Kingdom. I feel like I’m focusing the big picture of my life on something greater than myself, and I find more passion and resolve than if I’m simply hoping to run more, walk my dog more, or save more money (all of which I need to do).
When I set out to do this, I always pull up one of those end-of-year recaps from a media company. I look at the ways culture is memorializing the Church’s role in the affairs of our society, and I ask myself, “What can I do to help the Church?”
2012′s list of most-remembered events include: the Treyvon Martin shooting, the upholding of Obamacare, a fight over amnesty for the undocumented residents of our nation, a royal battle over gay marriage with the issuance of President Obama’s support and the Chick-fil-A debacle, a fight between cheerleaders and atheists on whether Bible verses could be used on football signs, the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings, Hurricane Sandy, and last and certainly not least, the 2012 Election.
What will 2013 bring?
It is sometimes painfully obvious that I not only need to be the change, but I am an active part of the problem in the Church. The problem is not that we disagree. I think that’s actually a hopeful reality. It means we’re thinking, and it means we care deeply enough to fight about social issues.
The problem is that when all the words have been exchanged and viewpoints made unequivocally known, we so often throw our hands in the air and walk away, shaking our heads, incredulous at the notions others can embrace while calling themselves a Christ follower.
And with each passing scenario, we start our conversations a little cooler, a little more stand-offish, a little less trusting.
We argue like we don’t understand the fact that we, the Church, will never entirely agree on the proper response to the issues that concern our culture. Here is truth: we are still commanded to live in peace and unity. We are called to love, regardless of views, regardless of theology, regardless of embarrassing mistakes we’ve made. What is antichrist more than any given erroneous theological view of an issue is the disunity that manifests when we discuss these things.
I am guilty of walking away, hands in air.
I am guilty of standing back and withholding my voice next time around.
I am guilty of labeling, pre-judging, and disengaging.
I am guilty of being a partaker in disunity and distrust of the Body of Christ.
I am guilty of being the wrong answer to Christ’s plea to the Father that we be unified, built brick upon brick, into a house of prayer for all nations.
This year, as I survey the state of the Church and ask myself how I can be the change, I am resolved to reconcile and to remain. To reconcile with those I have parted ways with over issues both small and large, and to remain in conversation with those who challenge me in uncomfortable ways.
I am learning there are people God puts in our lives specifically to shake up our certainty.
To make us think deeper. To turn our stony hearts to flesh. To resource our empathy and supplement our viewpoints. To send us to our knees with questions in our hearts.
I am thankful for the promise of the proverbs: “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” And this year, I rise again to relationships, especially the hard ones, committed to staying, to hearing, and to being part of a whole. Our voices may never be in chorus together on every topic, but we are part of the same family, and that’s what matters most.
That’s what should be most obvious about any of our discussions. At the end of the day, after a good hard talk, we should go have a beer, or a coffee if you please.
What about you? How can you be the change you want to see in the Church?
[Photo: Pinti 1, Creative Commons]