As we are finishing out 2017 and getting ready to launch into 2018, have you given any thought to what 2018 will be like for you? How will it be the same? How will it be different? When January 1st rolls around many people will make New Year’s Resolutions which usually end up being just good suggestions and not really resolutions. They are good for a month or two and then they are shelved and forgotten. But what will 2018 look like for you?
For me it will be trying to grasp the truth that my life as a Christian is not about being good. If life was really about being good, then the Pharisees would have had it all figured out. They memorized the first five books of the Bible which contains so many laws. They were rigid when it came to those laws. But according to Jesus they didn’t get it at all. Being a Christian is all about relationship, grace and Jesus. Jesus is the entire point of my existence. Jesus said, 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40).
I want 2018 to be a time of awareness that life is all about Jesus. I want to live in such a way that I know my life is not about being good. I don’t want to focus on my behavior but focus on my relationship with Jesus. And when I focus on my relationship with Jesus, everything else will fall into place. I want to know Him and trust Him in a way I never have before.
In Matthew 11 Jesus said, 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds. (Matthew 11:19). Jesus was called many things but I think the one that He really resonated with was being called a “friend of sinners.” What they meant as a derogatory statement He received as a compliment. When people in the culture and society threw a party, Jesus was on their guest list. Although Jesus was fully God, fully man and never sinned a day in His life, people outside the church wanted to be with Jesus and He wanted to be with them. When the world throws a party and puts out their guest list, I want to be on their list. I want to be with them.
I want 2018 to be a time to be a real friend of sinners. Jesus hung out with the “sinners” of His day. He went to their parties, He hung out at their houses, He ate dinner with them, He met them at places like the well (Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Bars). Okay, yes I said it . . . Bars! Jesus gave us the example and those places are exactly where He would be. I want to be where they are, let them know I am a real person doing real life just like them and most importantly that Jesus is real! I want to do life-on-life with them so Jesus can be seen in me and through me.
I want 2018 to be a time to focus on living the Bible. It is so easy for me to get focused on studying the Bible for knowledge and miss studying for wisdom and application. Paul challenged Timothy when he told him, 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I want to know God’s Word so I can flesh it out. I want to study His Word so I can grow to be more like Him and be more effective in sharing it with others.
I want 2018 to be a time when I show people that Jesus is the most important person in my life. One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis. Several years after he died some essays were found that he had written but never got published. These writings were published years later in book called God in the Dock. In one of those essays he said, “One must keep pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one things it cannot be is moderately important.” (God in the Dock, p. 101). I want to live in such a way that I know that Jesus and Christianity is of infinite importance and others will see that in me as well.
2018 . . . may it be a year of becoming more like Christ to be more of Christ to those around me!