If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? In just days we mark the beginning of a New Year – 2011. It is an opportunity to script a new beginning and turn over a new leaf.
When I did a quick survey of a number of websites touting popular New Year’s resolutions I discovered they all fall into one of the following categories, listed here in no particular order.
- Get organized – reorganize my life
- Break free from a bad, addictive or sinful habits
- Lose weight – win the battle of the bulge
- Get Fit – exercise regularly
- Handle money better – save more, give more, get out of debt, stick to a budget
- Career advancement – get a better job
- Learn something new – better education
- Help others – be more loving, volunteer
- Quality relationships – spend time with loved-ones
- Enjoy life more – less stress
One of the great theological treatises on the pitfalls and perils of new beginnings is the 1991 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. It is the story of an arrogant, self-centered man named Phil who finds himself trapped in living the same day over and over and over again. Despite numerous resolutions, no matter how hard he tries he cannot turn over a new leaf on the calendar. Every morning Phil wakes up to the same song on the radio, meets the same people, faces the same problems and is confronted with the same decisions. Essentially he is sentenced to reliving the day until he finally has a change of heart that enables him to get it right.
The deep theological truth embedded in this movie is that an internal change is required for an external change to truly take effect. And the old has to come to an end for the new to begin. Old attitudes and self-indulgent ways, so ingrained in all of us, will inevitably abort our resolutions for change.
But there is hope! Jesus is the answer for our New Year’s resolutions. He is God’s “New Thing” who enables us to break free from the pitfalls of the past and usher us into the new. Nothing is too hard for Him! He promises to make “a way in the desert and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)
Only He has the power to make “everything new.” (Revelation 21:5) He is able to do this because He changes us from the inside-out by giving us a “new heart and put[ting] a new spirit” within us. (Ezekiel 36:26) As a result “in His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through [His] resurrection.” (1 Peter 1:3) And that means that the “old has gone and the new is here” because we are “new creations” in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He instills in us a “new attitude” and enables us to “live a new life” and “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23, Romans 6:4 & 4:24)
These are just a sampling of the over twenty “new” things that are promised us through our relationship with Jesus Christ. Why not ask Him to initiate a big New Year resolution change in your life for 2011?
Do you have any unusual New Year’s resolutions you would be willing to share?