I went to the YMCA yesterday to work out and was reminded that it was the New Year. January is always crazy at the YMCA. All these people who decide for their New Year’s Resolution they are going to finally work out or lose that weight. I can watch their efforts unfold as the YMCA thins out through January and February. By March, I see the regulars there again but none of those new members. I understand these people. I am also trying to go to the YMCA more often to begin the year. I have some things I would like to do differently this year.
Why is it so hard to see lasting change in our lives? In our work places? In our churches? In our communities? I wonder if part of the challenge is that we struggle to balance being ok with ourselves and also wanting to change. We can hate ourselves so much that we don’t think we can change. We can love ourselves so much that we don’t think we need to change. We need to find balance.
This is not pop-psychology. I actually think this is routed in a spiritual issue. Do we really believe that God loves us just the way we are and that we cannot do anything to make God love us any less or any more? But that is exactly how God loves us. At the same time, God loves you enough to not let you stay where you are. This tension is all over scripture, but look at these verses for Colossians 3.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5 ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)
Understand the amazing assumption of this text. We are already God’s chosen ones. We are Holy and Beloved. At the same time, there are things in us that is earthly and need to be put to death. That is a very strong image that Paul uses. Take some things in your life out in the back yard and end them.
There are also things that we need to add to our lives. Paul’s metaphor for these things is that of clothing. It is as if God’s holiness and love is a coat that is given to you but you have to put it on.
This is what makes the Christian faith so special. It is a journey of becoming what you already are. It is being loved as you are but also being loved into the person you could be. So, as you approach your New Year’s Resolutions, try to be ok with who you are now. God is. At the same time, try to live into the person that God sees you as. Maybe that will give you just enough drive to make some lasting changes while also giving yourself slack when you fall backwards.
May you put on the new you with God’s help in 2015!