Last year, as 2017 approached I wrote about my search for a word that would accompany me through the upcoming year. My word ended up being 'surrender' and as 2018 approaches, I feel certain it isn't time to let that word go just yet. So, with my heart centered on surrender, I boldly step into the new year. I knew months ago that I didn't need to let go of that word just yet, so I didn't search for a new one. Instead of a new word, God has loudly offered up two different questions that I want to hold tightly to and be able to answer well in 2018. Keep reading to find out what these important questions are.
1. How has knowing Jesus radically changed your life?
This question came to me two separate times in the matter of just a few days via two different sources, both of which were quoting something from John Piper. When I took a little time to answer it for myself, I didn't like what I came up with.
The scripture that inspires this question is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17 which tells us, "If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold the new has come." This overarching question prompts others: Since coming to know Jesus, what old things in me have passed away? How have I been radically changed? Who as I before knowing Christ and who am I now? How am I living life differently than the rest of the world (Romans 12:2)?
As I take time to examine my life, I see lots of characteristics that don't align with Christ's. I am quick to anger, I struggle to forgive, I am more master than servant, I am more selfish than selfless...in other words, there are plenty of "old things" in me that I desperately need Christ to make new. I want my life to look radically different than who I was and radically different than the world for two reasons: so that others are drawn to Christ and so that He is glorified through me.
If I claim to know Jesus, but my life shows no signs of change or my lifestyle is pretty in sync with the world, I must ask myself if I truly know Him! Then, I must pray that He stirs the desire in my heart to know Him more.
2. How can I handle this situation in a way that honors Christ?
My mom posed this question to me during one of the many conversations in which I was seeking her advice. So often my goal in any given situation is to come out on top, or prove myself right, or to "win". How opposite of the nature of Christ can I get?! (see above paragraph referencing all the ways I still need to be made new)
Somewhere deep in my heart I do want my whole entire life to point to Christ, but a life like that takes real work, real intention. It's so much easier to act according to my sin nature though! If I can manage to slow down and ask myself this question at least two things would happen: first, I would live a healthier happier life and second, God would be glorified through so much more of my life.
When can I pose this question? ALL THE TIME. When I've been up late with the baby and am frazzled, when someone doesn't use the traffic circle near my neighborhood the right way, when I am in an argument with a loved one, when I am writing a blog post, when I am group texting, etc., etc.
I realize this question may come across as rather obvious. As a follower of Christ, shouldn't I already be living this way? YES, yes I should be. Sadly, I must admit to you that I am still usually out to glorify myself and that's just wrong. Living my life that way doesn't glorify Christ, it makes Him sad I'm sure. In all honesty, I'm rather sick of myself. There's nothing super great about me. I want to make it all about Jesus. He's the only one worth boasting in (Galatians 6:14)!
I've never really been a New Year's Resolution type person, but I firmly believe that if I walk through 2018 holding tightly to these questions, everything will be different. Now, I also believe that I need more than the questions themselves to walk the good walk. So how does one practically go about answering these questions well? The answer is twofold. First, if my life is indeed going to be radically different, I need to be in The Word. If I want to live a life that glorifies God in all situations, I need to be in The Word. I cannot be like Him or glorify Him if I do not know Him. So, while they aren't quite resolutions, these two questions absolutely demand change from me. A little less social media and a lot more truth. In addition to more time spent in God's Word, these questions can be better answered the more I find myself in prayer. As I practice these disciplines, my mind will be bent more towards Kingdom things and there will be less room for all the clutter of the world.
What are you walking into the new year with? Some resolutions? Intentions? Questions? Or perhaps a word? I'd love to hear what's on your heart!