I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. I doubt I’m alone, especially by the time Valentine’s Day arrives. It seems better to think about finishing something, not just trying hard to start something that should have been done a long time ago anyway. Surely you’ve heard a sage in your life say, ‘don’t start something unless you can finish it.’
I am a Georgia man, but Auburn educated. Early this football season I enjoyed the high ranking of so many teams from the SEC West, and all the chatter about how dominant our division was. Such power made it easy to explain away the intra-division losses. Commentators crowed about the possibility of two SEC West teams in the new playoff scheme. Problem is, we didn’t finish well. Auburn didn’t, for sure, unless you count a new defensive coordinator as the highlight of the season.
Finish well. That’s not a goal, but a lifestyle, which applies to faith, too. I have observed in over a half century of life and decades as a pastor, there is a caricature of faith that turns away the unbeliever and discourages the believer, so neither finish well. G.K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” The past is a graveyard of good intentions slain by the belief that Christianity is just a strict and high moral code to keep.
The Apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” Was it traveling the world, planting churches, shaking off a snake bite, speaking to rulers? Was it keeping all of his New Year’s resolutions that led to this self-congratulation? Doubt it. He finished well because he counted “all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
This caricature of faith I mentioned omits the relationship. Authentic faith is about the person of Jesus, God the Son, the one who loves you. It embraces change wrought by God. Consider that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Faith in Jesus means a new life lived by a moral code written on the inside.
Seems that God would be more than willing to answer the prayer, ‘if you’re really there, help me know you.’ Finish well by finding the surpassing value of knowing Christ. Come to think of it, that would be a good New Year’s resolution!
“Come to me…and I will give you rest.” – Jesus