New Year’s creates the illusion of fresh starts and new beginnings. Like a lawn covered with freshly fallen snow, 2015 stretches before us without footprint or trail. We can choose anew the direction of our lives and the pathways for our feet.
On New Year’s Day, change seems possible as we resolve to make this year different from the last. So we make ambitious New Year’s resolutions about diets, exercise, habits, church, money, vocation, and more.
Resolutions born at midnight on December 31st, however, seldom survive the first few weeks of reality. Habit is a hard master to overthrow. Even if a rut is a grave with two ends missing, it is still OUR rut, comfortable and cozy. By mid-January, the new and improved versions of our lives will greatly resemble the old and not so improved models.
After 33 years as a pastor, I have learned two polar opposite truths about fallen human beings:
- People don’t change.
- People can change!
The third chapter of John’s gospel describes how Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish ruling council, visited Jesus at night. Christ told the religious leader: I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
Jesus revealed two vital truths in this passage. First, we MUST be born again. Second, we CAN be born again.
In Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, God has formed a new covenant/relationship with humanity. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son—and if God gave his only Son, will he not also give us all other things besides?
People tend not to change on their own, but God can radically transform people! Paul wrote: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)
We serve a God of fresh starts, second chances, and new beginnings. Today can be different from yesterday; and tomorrow can be different from today. This year can truly be new in more than name alone.
The first and last word of the Gospel is grace—God gives freely. However, the divine initiative demands a human response.
God has gone all in for us. In turn, we are challenged to go all in for Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Let me warn you from the start that the price is HIGH—it will cost everything we’ve got. However, what we receive in return is PRICELESS and ETERNAL.
It’s the word “disciple” that’s a sticking point for many. We’re willing to be dilatants of faith, dabblers in religion, admirers of Jesus, and weekend warriors at church. If Jesus had a Facebook page, we would all “Like” it.
We want to live with one foot in God’s kingdom and another in this world. We do the Hokey-Pokey of faith where we put our whole selves in and then put our whole selves right back out again.
Jesus doesn’t entertain dilatants, dabblers, or admirers. He calls disciples. Our Savior has no interest in us “Liking” him. Christ calls us to LOVE him with the entirety of our being. Hold nothing back. Anything less is not enough. We are called to “Go all in and all out for the All in All!” (All In, Mark Batterson, p. 14)
People don’t change, but people can changed by Jesus Christ! In order to experience a year new in more than name alone, ask God to transform your life. Then go ALL IN for the Lord.
May God bless you with a Happy NEW Year!
People don’t change.
People CAN BE CHANGED!
I love the metaphor of the snow-covered lawn, pristine and inviting. We don’t want to mess it up. That’s the way I feel every morning. I don’t want to mess up the day! With CHRIST, I can do anything, and he will cover my missteps. If only I will remember that!
Thanks for sharing your well thought out and written script. Much food for thought. Have a blessed day.
Thanks Bill. I read these truths and think how amazing and wonderful that God continues to call witnesses to His Word from generation to generation. At this place in life I am reassured that you are a younger one carrying the torch, spreading the word, encouraging others along the way.
Bill Edwards firstname.lastname@example.org
What an inspiration! Your reminder of God being the One of fresh starts, second chances and new beginnings has been what we all need to hear…not just to like him but truly love him. Thank you for being my pastor and offering encouragement to stay inspired and involved in the work of Our Lord Jesus Christ.