New Year Resolutions
New Year’s Revolution:
“Thin in 2010!! That’s my motto, Brandy!”
“Good for you, Julia!”
“No more smokes for me in 2010. I’m starting the new decade by turning over a new leaf!”
“Speaking of new leaf; I’m going to get outt’a debt this year. ‘Been thinking about checking out that Dave Ramesy book form the library. This is the decade I start my journey to becoming a millionaire!”
“Whatever, Mark. Maybe then we can begin to go out on real dates instead of ‘splurging’ on the Dollar menu at McDonald’s!”
“Don’t knock it, Brandy, it’s still quality time; and you can expect even less of that! I gotta’ take extreme measures if I’m gonn’a reach my goal of at least paying off my credit cards in the next 12 months.”
Although this is a fictional conversation, it still holds true. All those who have ever set any New Year’s resolution knows exactly what I’m talking about. And if we could check back in on the three friends a month later, we would more than likely find them all hanging out at Micky-D’s; Brandy and Mark laughing at each others’ so-not-funny jokes as they sip their two-strawed milkshake, and Julia finishing off her diet coke (all that’s left of her #2 combo meal, value sized, she just consumed). And all was graciously purchased by Mark, or rather by Chase-Visa – since Mark used his credit card to get the points back. Our resolutions last barely as long as it takes us to conjure them up.
I’m not attempting to dissuade you from setting goals, but challenge you. I want to share a bit of my New Year’s Revolution. I’ve done the “I’m gonn’a hit the gym 3 times a week” or “gonn’a get a better handle on my finances” before. There’s nothing wrong with these goals or 99.9% of the other resolutions set by Americans, but this year has been different for me. I feel as if I’m in the midst of a revolution. As I look back upon the previous year, and consider changes that need to be instituted as of the coming year, all my resolutions (although some are seemingly similar to those set by others) have a dramatically different motive – Kingdom work.
My previous views of work done for the kingdom of God was restricted to “evangelistic” activities. For example, unless I was handing out tracts, working a bus route, teaching a Sunday School, or preaching in a jail, nursing home or a pulpit then I wasn’t doing kingdom work. But as I begin to take a good look at Jesus, He is turning my ideas of kingdom work over on it’s end. He said He came to do the works of His Father, yet we see Him involved in much more than knocking doors, or standing on a street corner holding up a sign with John 3:16 printed in bold red letters. We see Him keeping company with those who are society’s outcasts. We see Him pulling small children up in His lap. We see Him showing us what it is to truly live! Yes, Jesus preached to others that they must repent and believe on Him (I said Kingdom work is more than this but that does not mean to exclude it), but He did more.
The gospel changes everything. It’s not just a kernel of good news that we can tell people how to jump out of this over-heating hand-basket. It’s the story of God setting things to right in and through Jesus Christ. What sin has marred, and where death has been introduced, God has come in flesh and recreated, bringing life back into His creation. We were created in the image of God, sin twisted that image, and Jesus came reconciling the break. As Brandon said in an earlier post, “Christ is the perfect example of humanity.” The gospel is proclaiming liberty to the captives in telling them to repent of their sin and believe on The LORD Jesus Christ; but the gospel is also lived out by the followers of The God-Man, Jesus. It is spoken with the words of our mouth as well as the “words” of our actions. Many times it is forgotten, sometimes intentionally, that the apostle Peter not only tells us that Jesus suffered and died for our sins, but also encourages us with the truth that Jesus suffered for us and left us an example that we are to follow Him. (I Peter 2:21)
There is no way I can deal exhaustively with this, and I am still learning more of what it truly is to be a follower of Jesus; but I think Paul summed it up nicely in Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” and I Corinthains 10:13 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
So… here is my application, and then I will give you a challenge.
This has revolutionized the way I view my responsibilities as a husband and father. Kingdom work is being done when I speak with my children about Advent and help them memorize a short definition of The Incaration (not that one can fully define it, but you know what I mean… I hope). But Kingdom work is being accomplished just as much when I take my family out to play putt-putt and we laugh and play together. Neither is any less “spiritual” than the other, and both are vitally necessary (to use redundancy to stress a point). Kingdom work is praying with my wife, and discussing theological ‘discoveries’ with her, yet so is snuggling up with a bowl of popcorn and a movie, enjoying each other’s company and just being together. Both are needed. I am learning that my primary employment in God’s Kingdom is my own home. Ephesians 5:25-31 states that quite clearly “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’” and Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
And so my New Years resolution is born of my new years revolution – by God’s grace to be the husband and father God has called me to be through Christ. To follow Jesus’ example. And may my family see Jesus in me and thus follow Him, individually, with all their heart!
My challenge: Artist, Musician, secret writer of poems, English teacher, stay-at-home-mom – how will you do kingdom work this year? (Serious… tell me, I wann’a know!)