Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog about my last year’s list of twenty-two things I hoped to do throughout the year. In the blog I explained that I didn’t like to call it a New Year’s resolution because I feel it would limit everything that I’d aspire to do down to one year. But although I don’t like calling it a New Year’s resolution, I do think New Year’s Day is a good day to take stock of what you excelled in and what you failed at throughout the previous year. It’s good to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses at the end of each year and the beginning of the next in order to improve our livelihoods. One thing I think should be adjusted to the concept of New Year’s resolutions, though, is the whole “New Year” part. Instead of building a list for this next year and hoping I stick to it between January and December, I think it’s probably best to construct a New Life Resolution.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come,” (5:17). And although I believe the promise is true, that we’ve been given new lives, I think it’s the hardest thing to live up to. 2009 has taught me that living in accordance to Jesus’ ways is impossible on my own. Perhaps one day after I’ve died I’ll be made complete, but until that day comes, I will always have some taint of the flesh living within me. There will always be a part of me that wants to sin, that wants to do wrong, and that wants to rebel against God. What good does this new life do if there is always that sin living within me? Well, it has granted us the ability to do something we could have never done apart from Christ: fight.
I think it’s my biggest tendency as a Christian to lose sight of the spiritual war. I get thrown off track with the simplest distractions such as TV, internet, or just daily life. And in those moments of distraction, temptations often emerge. It is much easier to withstand those temptations, to resist them, when I’m living in pursuit of God’s ways. This was a hard learned lesson this past year. Time and time again I found myself conducting the same sinful habits of lust, holding grudges, casting judgment, and placing myself above others. The root issue was not being caught off guard, being tricked by the Devil, or anything provoked by accident. Every single time I sinned was because I chose to sin. But as 2009 fades and 2010 dawns, I realize I still have that ability to fight.
No matter how many times I’ve sinned, no matter how many times I’ve dropped the ball, and no matter how many times I’ve fallen short, Christ is still there to pick me back up. This means He’s still hoping I continue to fight. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul asks him to “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” (2:3). Unlike my human nature, a soldier is asked to fight even when he or she doesn’t want to. When the battle heats up and things get deadly, my human nature compels me to flee. But a soldier stays, a soldier endures, a soldier fights. When he doesn’t feel like it, when he isn’t in the right mood, when he’s been having a rough week, when people have been irritating him, a soldier continues to press on. If there is one thing I’d like to add to the list of my New Life resolution, it’d be to fight regardless of how I feel.
When I consider all the things I love in this world, all the things I care most about, they’re things that I have to work hard and struggle for: good grades, healthy friendships, good health, jobs, etc. I’m sure there’ll be others that I come across as life goes on, like a healthy relationship with my spouse, but these are the ones I’ve known. And these all are assuming freedom that has been fought for by others. It seems that even though I care about having a Godly reputation, upholding Jesus’ moral purity, I still disregard it as something I need to fight for. I know there’s a spiritual war, I know I’m supposed to fight, but with the way I’ve lived my life, it seems as though I don’t care at all. When the bullets come whizzing by my head, it seems like I care only about ducking down behind my sandbag. But no battle can be won if no one fights.
I cannot sit here and say that 2010 will be much better than 2009 because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I can say that I desire, more than anything, to fight. Even if I fall a hundred more times than I did this past year, I’d be happy knowing I fought harder. I’d be happy knowing the wounds I acquire did not come from sitting behind my safe firewall but rather from charging back against the temptations and trials. There is a quote from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers that I think is my favorite quote. King Théoden was so overwrought with shock that his kingdom was falling to their enemy that he asked Aragorn, “What can men do against such reckless hate?” Aragorn’s reply, “Ride out and meet them.” I cannot think of a better way to approach this new year; not with timidity, not with shame, not with fear, not with any kind of anxiety, but rather with the hope of overcoming evil with good.
Happy New Year.