Do you remember what resolutions you were making this time last year? Perhaps they included losing weight, or eating healthier meals, or putting aside some money. Those are all good things when life’s bumps are relatively minor and we believe there to be some semblance of order and prosperity undergirding our lives.
But in 2020, it wasn’t long before life as we knew it fell apart. We watched one tiny virus multiply and spread so quickly that it even reached the remotest outpost in Antarctica. We watched our social order unravel in cities and towns across the country and found ourselves pitted against each other, pigeonholed into caricatures of one camp or the other.
2020 has stolen the middle ground of compromise and tolerance in our streets, in our churches and around our kitchen tables. We are now acutely aware of the depth of racial and political anger boiling just beneath our guise of civility. We now know that truth can be reframed in such a way as to appear a lie, and lies can be dressed up in ways that make them seem true.
In times like these, what should our resolutions look like this year? I think that Hebrews 12:1-2 offers us some solid guidance:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
In 2021, lets resolve to throw off what hinders us from living holy, meaningful lives. What are the distractions we use to escape from thinking deeply and living intentionally?
In 2021, let’s resolve to throw off the sin that entangles us, especially those secret sins of bitterness, unforgiveness and self-righteousness.
In 2021, let’s resolve to run. “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32) Let’s exchange small living for intentional loving. Let’s get serious about our faith and about making a positive change in the world.
In 2021, let’s resolve to persevere. When we face sorrow, loss or evil, let’s not be quick to give up when our comfort is threatened, but instead “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin‘s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
In 2021, let’s resolve to fix our eyes on Jesus. Let’s get off the fence and take our eyes off the fleeting opinions of the world, and open our Bibles daily, committing to know him personally instead of depending on what others say about him.
In 2021, let’s resolve to keep our focus on the joy set before us. Now more than ever we need to live with heaven in mind. If we truly believe that heaven is real, it should change everything about how we live, how we suffer, how we succeed, and how we die.
In 2021, let’s resolve to despise the shame we may feel in being identified as believers and wear that identity with humility and grace. This is not a time to flaunt our faith, but instead set an example “in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
In 2021, let’s allow the losses we’ve suffered in the past year to sharpen our vision and deepen our commitment to holy living and courageous loving for such a time as this.
Our homes, our churches and our world need people of humility and conviction to step up and follow the example of Jesus who didn’t come to be served, but to serve. We have a cloud of witnesses urging us on. Let’s resolve, then, to leave off building our own kingdoms in order to build his kingdom, together.