Hawthorn Presbyterian Church

Resolutions and the Christian Faith

[Taken from the January 2012 “Monthly Notes”]

Resolution: n. a firm decision to do or not to do something:

It does not take many days of January to pass before the media begins discussing New Year Resolutions and how long they were kept. The pattern is often the same: an announcer explains his or her own private failings as the lead in to an invitation to others whose resolve has also faltered, to tell their story. Then follows an “expert” telling us all just why it is that some resolutions are easier to keep and others not. In some ways it all makes sense for we know that some habits are difficult to break but in other ways it can be little more than a comforting charade reinforcing our excuses; “Yes, I failed but at least I made a bit of an effort and that must surely count for something. I can always try again next year.”

The danger is that this constant pattern of on-again off-again resolutions hardens our culture to the strength and permanence of real conversion when it occurs. New Christians in every age, flushed with the very real wonder and joy of saving grace and forgiveness have had to face taunts such as, “It’s just a phase,” “You’ll grow out of it,” “Aren’t you psychologically secure enough in yourself,” and so on. Then as life’s path leads through difficult patches, the taunts take on a slightly different tone: “I thought you said your God was good!” or some sneering combination of, “If God is all powerful, why did He allow this to happen?” “Doesn’t He care?”, ”So much for His blessings,” comes our way.

We should not be shaken by such taunts because those who mock us simply have no understanding of what it is to be born again from above, and to be made new, and filled with the Spirit of the Living God. The world expects converts to relapse, and for all the same reasons as they expect with all other “resolutions,” and is confounded when it doesn’t happen. Here is where true faith differs from a merely emotional or temporary response. [See, Matt 13:20-21.] True faith perseveres over time, though one should not interpret this as a guarantee that life will always be a breeze, free from pressures, challenges, and perhaps even occasional doubts.

Whatever pressures we feel as contemporary Christians in the West, they pale by comparison with the obstacles that confront new converts in many other lands who suffer ostracism, disinheritance, and alienation from social networks which are vital to food, education, support, and perhaps even life itself. We do not really know what it is to “suffer much” for Christ’s sake, yet wherever Christians may be and however things may turn in our own land, the answer to suffering for Christ’s sake is always the same as the advice given to first century Christians who did suffer the loss of many things. (Heb 10:32-34). “LOOK TO JESUS” (Heb 12:2) for “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him,” (Heb 7:25).

In the final analysis, there is only one resolution which provides us with any lasting hope – the resolve of Jesus Christ. In Christ, and Christ alone, the future is secure, whatever and whenever the pressures. He has resolved to keep His people, totally! If you are His, He has resolved to love you, redeem you, transform you, give you His Spirit to dwell in you and to prepare you to live with Him forever. So, why would anyone in their right mind turn away from that? The answer is in the question: the mind that does not turn to Christ is not a “right mind”; it is blinded by sin.

Your New Year Resolution? May it be to know more of what the apostle John meant when he spoke of Christians saying: “We love Him because He first loved us.”

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