January 2024 Pastor’s Article

For many people the start of a new year means making resolutions.   About 45% of Americans take part in this tradition, and there is some logic to this practice.   Making a resolution is about setting a goal to strive for.  All goals have to have a starting point, so the beginning of a new year is as good as any.   People make all kinds of resolutions, but the majority of them are the same.   The top three New Year’s resolutions people make are to exercise more, lose weight, and save money.

This month millions of people are trying to start new habits to pursue one of those three goals.  There is nothing wrong with any of those goals, but I notice they all have something in common.   Most New Year’s resolutions are goals we make for ourselves to benefit ourselves.  Perhaps there is a different way we can approach New Year’s resolutions.

Most New Year’s resolutions begin by asking the question, “What do I need to improve myself?”   But what if our starting point was “What do I need to do to make myself more Christ-like?”  Jesus gave us the two greatest commandments:   To love God with all of our mind, heart, and soul as well as love our neighbor as ourselves.   If we make those commandments our starting points for setting goals, then our resolutions begin to look different.   By nature, they will not be focused on us, but they will be focused on God and on others.

What would resolutions based on the two great commandments look like?    It really comes down to each individual person and where they are in their faith walk, but here are some ideas.   If we are to love God with our whole being, then we have to be present to God.   One possibility would be to be more intentional about spending time with God.  Many believers are faithful at “sentence prayers” throughout the day, but we tend to struggle with taking a block of time and sitting in silence before God.   Another option in this area also deals with how we use time.  For some, Sunday morning is a struggle.  After a long week, it is easy to rationalize that Sunday morning is “me time.”   Perhaps a resolution in this area could be to make attending church and worshipping God with the community of faith a bigger priority.

When it comes to loving our neighbor as ourselves, a potential resolution could be to commit time to serving others.   There are a multitude of organizations we can volunteer with to serve nearly any population in need.  We can be intentional in finding a place where we can sacrificially give of ourselves to love others.    One of the dangers of being a long time Christian is we tend to get in a church bubble, so a potential resolution could be to put ourselves in situations where we interact with and build relationships with non-Christians.

A life of Christian discipleship is meant to be one where we continually strive and grow to be more like Jesus in our thoughts and actions.   As we begin 2024, perhaps a couple of goals to strive for throughout this year are exactly what some of us need to continue heading in the right direction in our faith walk.  If that is you, then may you consider making some faith-based New Year’s resolutions, and by the grace of God may you live them out throughout this entire year.

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