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Have You Given Up On Your New Year's Resolution Yet?

They—whoever “they” is—say that most people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions after two weeks.  Two weeks is the average most of us can go.  It’s been two weeks.  Have you given up on yours yet? 

Why do we make New Year’s Resolutions anyway?  And, more importantly, why can’t we keep them?

We make them because we know we can do better.  Live better.  Be better. 

We break them because it’s so hard to do better.  To live better.  To be better. 

Whether we resolved to go on a diet and exercise more, or to be more patient with others; whether we resolved to gossip less, or to watch less TV; whether we resolved to spend more time with our families, or to take more time to “smell the roses”, by making resolutions we’re admitting that we aren’t living the way we know we should be.  We’re admitting that we are somehow falling short, not just of the expectations others have for us, but of the expectations we have for ourselves. 

New Year’s Resolutions wouldn’t be such a big deal if we thought we were living the way we should!

They reveal that we are painfully aware that we fall short of the kind of people we want to be.  We aren’t just letting others down; we’re letting ourselves down too.

And this makes us feel bad about ourselves.  Really bad.  Oh, we might look all put together on the outside.  But, on the inside, the feelings of failure, shame, and/or guilt, whether subtle or overwhelming, eat away at us

The apostle Paul nails all this when he says: “I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but the very thing I hate…I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do…Wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:15, 19, 24) 

Unfortunately, most people think that Christianity will only make them feel worse about ourselves.  They think—often with good reason—that this is what the Church is all about: making people feel guilt and shame over all the ways they fall short. 

If this is you, if your impression or experience of Christianity—or Christians—has only left you feeling worse about yourself, if it’s only made you feel judged or condemned, I am profoundly sorry.  Please forgive us! 

I fully understand why the last place you would want to turn is the Church.  But, the last thing the Church should ever do is make anyone feel unwelcome.  After all, the Church isn’t a club for perfect people.  It’s a hospital for “sinners”—literally, those who fall short.

In fact, the only reason Paul mentions his “wretched” state is because he’s discovered a way out.  A way to be free of all the shame and guilt that burdens us. 

See, Paul isn’t bemoaning his abject failure to live the way he knows he should be out of despair, to feel worse about himself or to throw himself a pity party.  He honestly admits his failure to live up to his own expectations because, in Jesus, he’s discovered that God loves him anyway.  And he’s telling us all of this so that we can know that no matter how wretched we feel, God loves us anyway too.  This is how he puts it: “God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

There is no greater love God could show us.  But, He doesn’t wait until we’re better to show it to us.  He doesn’t wait until we’re living as we should.  He doesn’t wait until we keep all our New Year’s Resolutions. 

He loves us with the greatest possible love even when we don’t love Him. 

Even when we reject Him and live as if He is our enemy, He loves us anyway.  Even when we fail to be the people we should be over and over again, He loves us anyway.  Even when we gossip, snap at others, or behave like self-absorbed jerks, He loves us anyway.

He loves miserable wretches like us anyway.

And, the astounding good news Christianity proclaims is that all we have to do to know His love is admit we can’t fix ourselves and trust Him anyway—which is how He can then begin to fix us in the most profound way possible.

This is what Christianity is really all about, anyway. 

Which is great, IF you already believe.  But for those who don’t, what Paul says here provides a significant clue for the Truth of Christianity.  In next week’s blog, I’ll explain how.

I’d love to hear from you!  If you have any comments or questions, go to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and leave them there.  Also, if you haven’t had the chance to already, please “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel.  I really appreciate all the support you’ve given me over this past year and am looking forward to an amazing 2020 with you!

 

 

 

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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