Working out the New Year’s Resolutions

Monday, January 02, 2006

   Here goes the New Year.  The party is over; it is time to do the work.  Most everyone has dreamed of being a better person this year.  Part of that dream, the one most commonly stated, is finding some extra depth the breadth of discipline.  “I want to run more consistently”  “I am going to choose better foods this year” “I am going to write me loved ones more consistently” “I am going to study the Bible more meaningfully”.  We resolve to harvest a crop of righteousness, overcoming our cravings.  
   The 3 categories of cravings: Lust of the Flesh, Lust of the Eyes and the Pride of Life are our primary adversaries.  The reason we don’t write, run, read and so on is because we crave lesser things.  We have fallen spiritually, and the momentum keeps pulling us down.  Like gravity on flesh, spiritual death drags us into a resignation that only leaves the option to accept failure.  I think of the massive Ukrainian men and women on the beach in Thailand without massive swimsuits.  They have a perverse contentment with the failure of their bodies to look good without clothes.  How many people get to the point where they do the same with their souls?  “Forget, let it all hang out, reality is reality!”
   So where is the hope?  We need to “un-fall”.  As nice as an anti-gravity pill would be for our bodies, how much nicer would an anti-gravity pill for our mind and souls be.  But God has not provided that for any part of us.  Unfortunately, that is what some Christians believe accepting Christ to be: a pill like experience that overcomes gravity.  Other Christians say that accepting Christ + being baptized in the Holy Ghost = the anti-gravity dynamic.  But I have not seen that actually lived out.  Though it is true that in receiving Christ we are adopted as children and sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee until the final day of history, we still grow against the grain of this world: living rightly is still an uphill climb.
   Thank God for the spiritual gifts that help us fight the battles, but they are still battles.  And for the gaming generation, what you may not appreciate is that non-cyber battles, actually physically duking it out, are really tiring, hard work.  So is the spiritual battle.  The resolutions to do better this year, to like yourself better at the end of next year, really do come down to a four letter dirty word: work.
   Philippians 2:12-16
(12)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
(13)  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
(14)  Do all things without grumbling or questioning,
(15)  that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
(16)  holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

   So let us get our hands dirty this year, working against the grain of this world.  Let us work in God’s power by working to resist the downward pulling temptations and diligently set our minds on things above.  Let us cast off the excess distractions and wrong attitudes and attachments which weigh us down and make our uphill struggle all the more difficult.  If we truly want to achieve the blessedness of having rightly lived out the gift of life (and of new-life), then we shall surely have to work hard and steady but now without hope.  Grab hold of the plow, set your sites, and for your 2006/7 party, celebrate your straight rows that you have plowed in 2006 before you consider what might be next for 2007.

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