New Year Resolutions, Repentance, and the Good Life
Do you see how New Year’s resolutions are like repentance? Just as our resolutions describe ways in which we resolve to change our behavior to improve our lives, so does repentance. And we make resolutions because we want to live a new way that is better for us and, hopefully, better for those around us, too. We want our lives to be good! Repentance aims at that same goal.
If you’ve been to worship at St. James during Advent, you probably heard me describe repentance as a change in life’s direction. It’s when I lay my way of living my life alongside of the way Jesus would live my life, and then make course corrections so that my way and Jesus way line up better. In other words, repentance is making changes in our lives to follow Jesus better.
So, if we want our lives to be good (at least better) who is better equipped to offer advice about living a good life than the One who created our lives? Who is better to listen to than the One who, at great cost, came so that we might have light burdens (Matthew 11:30) and life abundant (John 10:10)?
In that light, here are some suggestions we might draw from Jesus’ life with his disciples (apprentices) and his teaching:
- Set aside time each day for conversation with God (prayer).
- Visit regularly other members of our church family.
- Attend Bible study classes or other faith formation gatherings to grow your understanding of the One we follow.
- Speak the name of Jesus in your daily conversations so that it becomes more natural for you to spread the good news.
- Come to worship and stay for fellowship more often.
- Take stock of all the gifts God has given you and think of new ways to share them.
- Thank God and people more often for the blessings you experience through them.
- Look for God in the people and events around you especially among the powerless and poor (look for positive reversals in fortune, surprisingly gracious behavior, or great generosity) and then share these observations with others.
You can probably think of other resolutions, other ways to repent. But, if you start with this list and decide to adopt any or all of these changes and actually do them, I am sure you will find that:
- you will be an encouragement to others;
- you will strengthen the body of Christ;
- God will be revealed to those in your world;
- your connection with God will become more deeply rooted in your soul;
- your life will be better in ways you can’t imagine or make happen by yourself
How can I be sure of this? Because these are ways that align our lives with Jesus’ Way, and good always results from that. You will probably find it to be more fun and fulfilling, too!
May your new year be filled with an awareness of God’s love for you and others, and may it be fun!
Your brother in Christ,