One of my favorite quotations is, “You are going to be what you are now becoming.” I suppose that I like it so much because it gives me hope. It proclaims that despite all the things I dislike about myself, there’s still time to become a better version of me. And even if it’s not always clear who I'm becoming, or even who I am, the saying is still true.
It’s now winter in Dayton, Ohio. Most of us wake up to the dark and cold, go to work inside, and return home under grey or already dark skies. The temperatures and snow have fallen. And there’s more to come. It’s the season of struggle and toil, waiting and enduring. We’ve celebrated the Savior’s birth, rung in the New Year, made resolutions, and now we await with hope that somehow this trip around the sun will be different.
Our need for transformation is evident in the questions we ask ourselves, Why can’t I just eat healthier? Why don’t I exercise more consistently? Why do I continue to get angry when I know it displeases Christ? Why am I so ________? Why can’t I _________? And so it goes…
January brings a fresh start, a chance to get it right, the hope that this year our growth will be for real. This year's the year the resolution will stick. This will be the year of healthy eating, regular exercise, and consistent Bible reading. This year I will...
But most of us won’t. For most of us, our will power will be on empty by the end of the month. February will be riddled with self-condemnation and self-flagellation. And perhaps by March we’ll be back to our equilibrium. I’m convinced it doesn’t have to be that way.
The problem with resolutions is the expectation, not the intent. It’s unrealistic to expect a leap from zero to hero just because the calendar has turned to 2017. That’s not how real growth happens. Normally growth is the result of small intentional steps, not great leaps.
I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone. As someone who strives to be like Jesus, it’s hard to face how spectacularly I fall short. Making resolutions gives me a place to hide. Behind the resolution is the belief that the distance between who I am and who I’m called to be is simply a matter of will power. The truth is far more complex.
My need for transformation extends far beyond my desire or self-control. Too often I’m deaf to Scripture, blind to my selfishness, and hardened in heart even to those closest to me. The real me is hard for me to stomach and so I compare myself to others in areas I’m strong and to Christ in areas I’m weak.
What I need is the Gospel, not New Year’s resolutions. The Gospel offers me the opportunity to be transformed. With a Gospel view, I can see with the resolution of Jesus. I can see that I am a sinner who needs a Savior to redeem my past and a Lord to lead my future. What I need is to look less at me and more at Christ.
As the author of the Good News, Jesus is the road map to transformation. As he said to Peter and Andrew, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).” So, He’s making it clear that as I follow Him, He transforms me. Paul also understood that wholehearted devotion leads to transformation and a renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2).
So this year instead of making resolutions, I’m seeking to improve my resolution of Jesus, to focus on Him.
What if fixing our eyes on Christ wasn’t a cliché? What if we took the time to examine His life the way a young boy tries to imitate his father’s every action or as a daughter does with her mother? What if instead of making resolutions we improved our quality of our Jesus picture?
This year, I want my Jesus picture to go from standard resolution to HD. I want to know His story like a familiar movie. I want to be able to parachute into any part of it and know where I am- to immediately know what’s just happened and what’s coming next. Specifically, my plan is an in-depth study of the life of Christ. My goal isn’t information, but simply to dwell with Him and gaze intently at the life He lived and the way He loved. As Jesus’ disciple, my aim is to become like Him. I want my blurry imitation of Christ to become HD and then 3D.
A study of His life isn’t the only way to improve your resolution, but it should involve His Word. Maybe for you it’s a character trait you’d like to grow in like generosity, patience, or stillness. Maybe it’s intentionally developing a spiritual discipline like prayer, Scripture memory, or sharing your faith.
This year as resolutions fade, make your priority improving the resolution of your picture of Christ. Remember that setbacks are a part of becoming. Instead of self-condemnation, respond by refocusing your eyes on Jesus. Because in Christ there’s hope. And in 2017 we need that in HD.