Resolving to Be Different
January 5, 2019 by Olanda Carr
It’s that time again. In what seems like the ‘twinkling of an eye,’ another year has gone, a new year has begun. Memories of 2018 have quickly been replaced with aspirations for 2019.
For many of us, that means creating THE list of resolutions. It seems there is something about the turn of the calendar that prompts the masses to change things that we never got around to changing in the previous year. If you’re one of the thousands of individuals that engages in this annual ritual, let me offer up a few ‘extra’ resolutions for this year. Instead of just striving for the old standbys of diet and exercise, let us resolve to live and behave differently, more consistently with who God calls us to be. Specifically, let us resolve to be more loving, faithful, and generous in 2019.
Resolve to be more loving
It is often tempting to ground our belief system with rules and standards and less on behavioral practices. In his book, “The Great Spiritual Migration,” Brian McLaren challenges this concept, asking “what would it mean for Christians to rediscover their faith not as a problematic system of beliefs, but as a just and generous way of life, rooted in contemplation and expressed in compassion?”
McLaren asserts that Jesus provided a template for radical love – one that caused him to eat with sinners and forgive, even while being tortured, rejected, and killed. How can we apply such a radical love today? Focusing on loving each other ultimately breaks down barriers and allows us to see more commonalities in one another than differences.
Resolve to be more faithful
Many of the churches I serve often lament over declining membership, lethargy, and financial struggles. While these are very real and pertinent issues facing congregations across most mainline denominations, we must be careful not to allow these issues to overshadow our call.
God called each of our congregations into being – from the five member church to the 5,000 member church. We must not lose sight of this imperative.
Therefore, we must continue to seek God’s wisdom and direction when discerning the future of our churches. Let 2019 be a year where we become more intentional with prayers for our churches, prayers for our members, and prayers for clarity of direction. Luke 16:10 reminds that we are to be “faithful in very little” and also “faithful in much.” The same God that called our churches into existence many years ago is the same God that leads our churches of today.
Resolve to be more generous
If I had a penny for how many times I heard the scriptural phrase “the Lord loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7b), I’d be a very wealthy man by now. Yet, as often as I have heard it, I still appreciate the reminder it offers. Giving of any kind should not be something that is done begrudgingly. Rather, giving should be joyous and based upon our faith commitment to Jesus Christ.
Giving is to also be multifaceted. While financial giving is important to the vitality of ministry, so are contributions of time and talent. We must resist the “I’m too busy to serve” responses that are sometimes offered quickly as means to avoid unpleasant or uncomfortable tasks. Earnestly seeking God’s guidance in all areas of giving – time, talent, and resources – clarifies senses of purpose and direction.
Inherently, I believe resolutions to be a good thing, as they usually encourage us to improve upon various aspects of our lives. The challenge is often related to the action necessary to enforce them. Resolving to be more loving, faithful and generous may sound simple, yet we may find ourselves veering off course just a few short weeks down the road. Proverbs 3 reminds, however, that seeking and acknowledging God in all things will provide us the clarity to straighten the crooked path.