[This is the January newsletter article I wrote for King of Kings. I liked it, so I figured I'd share.]
The Good News about New Year's
Just as surely as Thanksgiving has its turkey and Christmas has its decorations, January has its own tradition: New Year's resolutions. It's a staple of both pop culture and our own lives. After the holidays, after the family celebrations and the overindulgent feasts, we settle down into a dark, cold January, determined to remake ourselves. Join a gym; lose that holiday weight; become a more patient or thankful or kind person; find Mr. or Ms. Right.
What is it we are searching for, after all? When we try to conform our appearance to the photoshopped magazine ideal of slender bodies (or, for gentlemen, toned bodies) and perfect skin, we are doomed to failure. When we search for our lives' meaning in romance, we are more often than not disappointed. And when we try to mold ourselves into patient, kinder people, we often end up frustrated. New Year's resolutions send us chasing after impossible ideals and leave us feeling worse about ourselves than we did before we began.
In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit." This is the good news for us about New Year's! Paul reminds us that we are being transformed, not by our own effort but by the Holy Spirit. We are being transformed, not in January but constantly. We are being transformed; therefore we don't have to be slaves to our resolutions, but we can enjoy the freedom of the Spirit.
This year, consider this New Year's resolution: to let go of resolutions. Instead, remember that God's Spirit is constantly transforming us. We are not becoming closer and closer to the false ideals of advertising, but we are becoming closer and closer to the glory of God. And it is through God's grace that we receive this transformation. Therefore, we are free! Thanks be to God!