By Joel A. Hess –
I have a couple resolutions for this year—a couple goals, a couple plans. Don’t listen to those Christians who confuse fatalism with the theological truth that we are perpetually sinners living by God’s grace. Just because we live by God’s grace in regard to our relationship with Him does not mean that it’s wrong to work at improving ourselves, our community, or our relationships with others. In fact, we have been freed and are led by the Spirit to do just that!
Quite frankly, it’s a joy to work toward these things precisely because I know that I can fail at them! More than that, I know that I will likely be blessed by my failures this year more than my successes! It’s not that I will pursue failure, but due to my nature and this failing world, I will see many a failure this year. Whether it’s a grievous sin of mine, another, or damage caused by the shrapnel from this decaying world, these sufferings will not be my end. Instead, they will provide a place for my Lord’s deliverance!
This year, I will see and hear my sins forgiven, and my sufferings will be used by God to cause me to let go of this age and grab more firmly to the one to come. As Paul writes to the Philippians in chapter 4, I will learn to be content in good times and bad.
As repeated by every second-year student from mediocre universities, Nietzsche cleverly proclaimed, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Yet the Christian can say one better. For death not only did not defeat Jesus, but it accomplished the salvation of the whole world. So also, the one who is born again in this Christ needs not be afraid of sin, failure, or even death, but instead, remarkably, she can rejoice in God’s forgiveness for her sin and in the resurrection of the dead!
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:4-5
This year, one way or the other, I will rejoice in my Lord—whether it is due to achievements and goals attained or failures covered by grace and weaknesses resulting in showing God’s power.
This year, God’s kingdom will come. His will will be done. My daily bread will be supplied. My sins will be forgiven. And I will be delivered from the Evil one.
Bring on the New Year!