All around me I see people resolving.
RESOLVED: To read my Bible more this year! RESOLVED: To spend more time with my family this year! RESOLVED: To watch less television, read more books, get outside more this year! RESOLVED: To be a kinder, gentler, nobler, more compassionate, kinder (oops, already said that), lovinger, happy person this year. RESOLVED: To be the bestest person I can possibly be!
We all nod or say, “Amen,” or give a simultaneous slow clap/standing ovation. Good for you! Always improving. Never say die. Kicking butt and taking names all for the glory of God. Look out, Satan, you’re getting put on notice for this coming year. There’s a freight train of holiness coming, and you better get out of the way.
Yet here I am, off in the corner, refusing to the whole resolutions thing, like that annoying kid at the birthday party who is upset that the presents aren’t for him. What’s my deal? Why do I have be such a rain-on-your-parade grump?
I guess part of it is that I know myself too well.
It’s not like I’m going to wake up on January 1 a completely different person. I’m still the same old me, with the same old sins, problems, and weaknesses. Unless God does something amazing, which he certainly can if he pleases, I’m pretty sure I’ll still struggle with chronic physical anxiety this year. I’m pretty sure I’ll still be condescending, cynical, and proud. I’m pretty sure I’ll still love comfort more than I should. I’m pretty sure my kids will still drive me crazy.
New year, same me, same problems.
Maybe you can relate to me. The thought of being a new, more improved, more holy version of you in the coming year is exhausting, daunting, and guilt-inducing. If that’s you, I’ve got some really good news for you:
You don’t have to do better this year.
Christ did all the resolving you need for this year, next year, and every year until you die. I love how Luke 9:51 puts it:
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
As the end of Jesus’ life approached, he resolved to finish what he had started. He resolved to complete his magnum opus of perfect obedience to all of God’s commands and he resolved to die a substitutionary death for you and me.
Can you imagine how much harder things got for Jesus as he got closer and closer to Jerusalem? Every step brought him closer to being swallowed by the wrath of God. Every forward movement brought him closer to the thing that he abhorred the most. And don’t forget that Satan was probably unleashing all he had at Jesus. Although not spelled out specifically in Scripture, I imagine that the closer Jesus got to the cross, the more temptations he launched at Jesus.
Yet through it all, Jesus was resolved. He would not, could not, did not turn aside. He stayed the course. Finished the race. Rose again. And now his obedience belongs to you and to me. His resolutions are our resolutions. His righteousness is our righteousness.
This coming year, I live in the good of Galatians 2:20—
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I don’t live by my resolutions. I don’t live by my goodness or obedience. I live by the life and resolutions of another—Jesus.
I suspect that some people will take this post to mean that I don’t care about obeying God. The term “antinomian” (lawless) will probably get thrown around. Will I seek to be holy and pursue the Lord in the coming year? Of course! I love Jesus and want to be more like him. But if this year is anything like the previous 31 years of my life, I’ll have pretty mixed results, and that’s really okay. I don’t stand on my obedience to God, I stand on the solid, unshakable, solid rock of Christ. To stand on anything else is spiritual suicide.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do some exercise, while simultaneously reading my Bible and learning Spanish.
Stephen Altrogge is a writer who lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He’s married to Jen and has three little girls. Stephen Altrogge is a writer, pastor, and knows a lot about Star Wars. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Find out more when you visit his blog, The Blazing Center.