My New Year’s Resolution this year is to write 2020 instead of 2019.
You might be laughing, but I’m serious. That’s the big change I’m planning to make for the year. That’s as far as my self-improvement stretches. I’ve tried New Year’s Resolutions in the past (Learn Spanish! Write in a journal! Bake a better pie crust! Go to the gym!), with mixed success.
What I’ve noticed about New Year’s Resolutions is that they are, by and large, about making an effort to improve one’s self. Self-help and self-improvement are popular and lucrative for producers: in 2016, Americans spent $9.9 billion on books, personal coaches, seminars, and more, all in the name of being better. The trouble is that a lot of this just doesn’t work. We are not, it turns out, very good at fixing ourselves. We give up or lose interest and end up right back where we started. Resolutions tend to inward focused, and they also tend to fail within a matter of weeks. They work for some people, but not for everyone. Making a “new you” just doesn’t work.
Or does it? In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul wrote to that church: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…”
Becoming a “new you” isn’t about getting a makeover or changing your habits. That transformation happens through Jesus Christ, who offers reconciliation instead of resolutions. You don’t need to improve yourself enough to please God because God is determined to reconcile us to him, whether we make our resolutions or not. The “new you” isn’t someone you create. He, or she, or they are someone God creates, a new creation in Christ, forgiven and reconciled to God.
That’s really how reconciliation happens, after all. God sees how far we’ve drifted apart, and resolutely comes along to invite repentance and offer forgiveness. With forgiveness comes reconciliation and the “new you.” Forgiveness is all it takes, and forgiveness doesn’t cost $9.9 billion. Forgiveness and reconciliation are free to us because they cost Jesus Christ everything..
I suppose I have two resolutions, actually. I am resolved to trust God to make the “new me” through the reconciliation that comes through Jesus Christ. I am resolved to be thankful that God already resolved to reconcile humanity with heaven those thousands of years ago. I think I can live with that.
Reconciling God, I thank you for your resolution to make a “new me” through Jesus Christ. Help me to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to the world in your name. Amen.