Connecting with Culture
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So far as we can tell, people have habitually marked the beginning of the new year. And the resolve at such times to ‘do better’ goes back at least to ancient Babylon. Something about the turn of the calendar carries with it a pervasive and powerful desire for a fresh start, a clean slate.
According to recent polling, 25% of us make resolutions each New Year, most of them to do with becoming healthier, managing money, and improving ourselves. And yet, research also confirms what we already suspect – perhaps from personal experience – that the majority of us will abandon our resolves by mid-January, with many of us not making it beyond the first week.
Still, the making of resolutions at least implies a felt need for transformation of some kind – a need that Christians, of all people, should understand.
That need, and our failure to meet it, is addressed in the gospel, which declares that the heart of the Christian faith is not merely the potential for self-improvement, and still less the need to secure salvation through following a certain ‘code’.
Instead, it’s freedom – leaving us free from the pressure of having to do things to gain favour with God, free from trying to prove ourselves to others, free to submit to Christ.
The gospel not only explains the need for change, but also provides the power to bring it about. Power that comes from the finished work of Christ on the cross, from who God is and what he has done, and with the Spirit as the agent of transformation in our lives.
The biblical image of ‘walking’ to describe the Christian life is particularly apt. While it’s beneficial to take stock of where we are and make some changes if necessary, the walking metaphor suggests a more regular pattern. It’s an ongoing process that occurs in the everyday places where we live and work – on the commute, in the home, at the office, at the gym, in the checkout queue.
In such contexts, we discover, it’s the consistent, everyday habits and actions that make a difference, as we continue to walk step by step – our lifelong process of transformation into the likeness of Christ through the ongoing work of the Spirit.
Theology Advisor, LICC