Monday, January 6, 2014

And Another Year Passes

Another year is upon us. It seems to happen on a regular basis, no matter what we try to do. Along with a new year, there comes something called New Year's Resolutions. This is when people determine that they are going to do certain things and accomplish certain goals in the next 365 days. That is why you see special deals on weight loss programs, fitness center memberships, and home fitness equipment. Other resolutions include career, financial, relational, or spiritual goals.

I have nothing against resolutions as such. It is good to have goals for the coming year. My problem is I tend to make resolutions and then not keep them. It seems that is a problem common to the human condition. It is very easy for us to see resolutions as devices to make us better people, much like the 5 steps to ________________ that you can hear in many churches on Sunday mornings. If we fail to keep these resolutions, we can become filled with guilt and frustration. If we are able to keep them, we can become self-righteous.

Pam Hogeweide has written a good article on what she wants for the coming year. It is titled, "Soaring into Everday Loveliness With One Word." Pam writes that, rather than making resolutions, she has chosen the word "soar" as what she wants to do in 2014. She also asks her readers to comment with what their one word would be. I chose "grace."

In the last couple of years, I have been learning what grace is. The idea that Abba loves me no matter what and sees me as his beloved son is liberating. As I learn, it is becoming more and more clear that absolutely nothing I can do will ever change the Father's love for me or my standing as his child. I'm not saying that nothing I do matters, because it does. I'm saying that my actions can not make me a better person inside, that they can not make me righteous. I am righteous because of God's grace through what Christ has done. It is finished, and there is nothing more for me to do.

I want to live every day in and from my Father's grace to me. I want to do everything out of love and gratitude, not out of a desire to earn God's favor or stay right with him. I want to walk looking at Jesus and his finished work, and not fearfully looking over my shoulder or around me, worried that I might screw up. Because I will screw up, sometimes royally. But, it's okay because it doesn't change who I am in Christ. It also doesn't change the settled fact that God is redeeming everything in my life for his kingdom and his glory. I want to live out of that reality.

I also want to live a life that extends that same grace to others, to those whom I love and to those who are difficult to love. I want to love my neighbor (who just happens to be everyone) as Jesus loves me. I want to love others without putting conditions on them. No reciprocity, no demanding, and certainly no "exacting a pound of flesh." I know I can only do that as I am able to rest in the grace of Abba. Otherwise it becomes just another one of those resolutions that I can't keep.

My word for 2014 is grace. I'd love to hear what word you would choose.






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