Every new year people resolve to make changes for the coming year. Sometimes they even follow through on that resolve. Many times, however, older habits get in the way. I started going to a gym in October three years ago. Since that time, every first week in January I notice an increase in attendance. Every third week in January I notice that attendance is back down to the previous levels. Resolutions don’t last long. Instead of looking at resolutions, maybe we should be planning revolutions. We need to change “I will” to “I am;” replace plans for what we will do with changes in who we are.
Often people resolve to stop committing particular sins. The problem is that specific sins are not the problem; sin is the problem. Even the prayers of many Christians indicate a lack of revolution. “We are sinners, God. Forgive us.” What is needed is a revolution in outlook. Instead of “I am a sinner,” we need to say “I am saved.” Paul speaks in detail about this revolution in Romans 6. He calls it a new life.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom 6:3-6)
A sinner is one who walks in sin. He is not one who simply commits sin, but one who continues in it. Our new years revolution should be that we walk in the light (1 Jn 1:7), in a new life as a forgiven person.
There may not be a person in the world who says, “I pray enough. I don’t need to pray more.” A common new years resolution is “I will pray more.” It is an honorable resolution. The problem is that it addresses an action, not a person. Replace I will pray with I am a child of God. Most people communicate with parents. If separated by distance it may not be by Facebook and e-mail. The parent-child connection may be among the strongest, and is accompanied by communication. One might resolve to call a friend more often, and fail to do so; yet one continues to speak with a parent. When we revolutionize our connection with God we will not have to resolve to pray more often. It becomes part of our nature.
The same thing applies to our attendance at assemblies of the church. “I will go to church more often” emphasizes the action, not the motivation. “Going to church” is an admirable goal. Perhaps a revolution in phrasing, though, would make it a more permanent part of life. Going to church is similar to going to work or school. It is an obligation to be met with more or (often) less enthusiasm. Instead of resolving to go to church, think of it as visiting the saints. Even the most antisocial of us look forward to seeing people we like. Revolutionizing the church from a building to a body of friends makes it much easier to want to be present when others are present.
Revolutions often involve a change in government. So must it be with our new years revolutions. When we resolve that “I will” we are governing ourselves. With the new years revolution, God replaces me as the government. That makes other changes so much easier.