As redeemed individuals, we can navigate this life with an eternal perspective. That reality should make us want to make the best use of our short time on earth. The Gospel facilitates all sorts of changes. Perhaps it is adjustments to your personality, eating, or friends. Or maybe it is improvements to how you spend your mornings and evenings, improvements to your waistline, and your bottom line.
The reality that God became a man and lived among us so he could die for us should compel us to see evidence of our redemption through the redemption of our time, money, and energy. Jesus came to earth and died for us so that we might go to heaven and live as we were created to live. But that new life, though not fully realized, is already upon us! The evidence of our eternal redemption is the redemption of temporal things in our lives.
Of course, there are many admirable individuals who have not been redeemed through the blood of Jesus, yet live lives of extreme discipline in how they eat, exercise and spend their money and time. These individuals are a reminder that we have all been created in the Image of God and have a great capacity for discipline and stewardship. The difference is to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:26)” We are also reminded that no amount of work or good deeds will secure our salvation.
In light of the change that the Gospel facilitates here are three ways to shape your new year that I believe will help the church strike a biblical balance of engaging and loving our communities while continuing to grow in holiness as a set apart body of believers that is experiencing redemption in the here and now as we long for that day when our redemption is fully realized - when we see Jesus face-to-face.
###Three Ways to Shape Your New Year
####1) Break Ground Break ground this year. Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone. Build new relationships. Start new habits. Get back in church (don’t wait until you get your crap together - You never will!) or try a new church if you’re not in a good one. Open up about your spiritual life to someone. Read a book. Set a goal and go after it. Think about life beyond the grave. When they break ground to bury you will you have accomplished something worth accomplishing? Or will you have only settled for what came easily?
####2) Break Bread When you read the New Testament you notice that Jesus was always eating with people. Robert Karris writes: “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.” When he engaged the world and when he was teaching his disciples Jesus knew a meal would not only open people's mouths but also their hearts. Breaking bread doesn’t have to literally mean a meal. The point is about building new relationships and cultivating the ones you have. Take advantage of the lives in your life. Be sharpened by others and sharpen others. Determine to let others talk more than you. Discover ways to pray for people over a meal - pray before you eat and before you/they leave. Love people and express it with time and energy.
####3) Break Chains The year 2017 can be the year you begin to own your faith and the sin you struggle with can stop owning you. In a biblical perspective, we think about breaking chains in a few ways; 1) think in terms of idols - your idols and the idols of others. Consider the spiritual state of yourself and those around you – Is it well with our souls? Two things will occur when we do this - Repentance and Discipleship. 2) In addition to spiritual chains consider physical chains (Think orphan and the widow - the disenfranchised). The Christian life cannot be only about sin management. That would make us religious. We are much more than that! We are children of God - ambassadors and witnesses to this world that one has come to release their chains. Christ died to break the chains that imprisoned this world. we must live in that freedom and proclaim that good news.
Idleness sets the door of the heart ajar, and asks Satan to come in ― Charles Spurgeon
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. ― Psalms 90:12