Tag Archives: New Year

resolved

person-woman-sitting-old

How many of us actually expect to keep them? I think the success rate, at least according to the internet (and everything out here is true), is roughly around 8%. Yet every time a New Year rolls around we find our selves resolving to be better. Whether it is kicking a bad habit, losing weight, becoming more healthy, etc., it is almost a rite of passage into a new year to resolve to augment our behavior in some way that will make us better. Somehow the idea of a fresh start is just the spark we need to radically alter who we were just yesterday…kind of sounds silly in print. And yet I find myself wanting to be a part of the crowd when it comes to self-improvement. But one resolution has always plagued me a bit.  It goes like this; “I resolve to draw closer to God.”

Now at face value this is a great resolution. Who wouldn’t want to draw closer to God? I know I do. I think the problem is how we go about it. We think somehow that drawing closer to God is something that is achieved on an individual level. As if he can only be encountered in my resolve to be personally accountable to His presence. And although I realize that we need time alone with God I believe that if we want to draw closer to God it looks a little different. Frank Weston, the one time Bishop of Zanzibar in the Anglican church wrote the following more than a hundred years ago:

You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the tabernacle if you do not pity Jesus in the slum. … It is folly, it is madness, to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacrament and Jesus on the throne of glory, when you are sweating Him in the bodies and souls of His children. . . . You have your Mass, you have your altars, you have begun to get your tabernacles. Now go out into the highways and hedges, and look for Jesus in the ragged and the naked, in the oppressed and the sweated, in those who have lost hope, and in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them; and, when you have found Him, gird yourself with His towel of fellowship and wash His feet in the person of His brethren.

Here is what I think I am trying to say. If you really want to resolve to draw closer to God this year then resolve to draw closer to the people He died for. By sharing God’s love and life with others we find a way to encounter God like never before. Jesus himself put it this way in Matthew 25:38-40 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’.” So by all means resolve to draw closer to God this year. It could be the greatest resolution you make. But be certain, it can never be done within the walls of your own safety and security. Rather it is only through reaching out in Christ’ love to those who haven’t been encountered yet for the Kingdom. Here you will truly draw closer to God.

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at hand

I’m not sure if your household works this way but for some reason ours always has. There are certain odd jobs or tasks that by default get assigned to someone. For instance, my wife is the comforter. If someone gets hurt or upset daddy just will not do. It’s up to mom to make the situation better…although it never stops me from trying. One of the default roles that has come to me is that of seeker. And although I am not chasing down a golden snitch, I am the one who finds lost things. If someone has misplaced something or lost a toy or can’t find their car keys (ahem, my wife), then it is up to the seeker to find them. And I am usually pretty good at my job…unless I misplace/lose something. You see, I am usually very systematic in the way I take care of my things. But a few weeks ago we couldn’t find one of our remote controls. And although we suspected our youngest, as he has a habit of carrying these around, we could not locate it. And then one day I walked into the bedroom and there it was…on my side of the bed. A place I was sure I looked many times.

And now we find ourselves in a New Year. I don’t know about you, but whenever I am faced with newness or unknown I get a little unsettled. What is tomorrow going to look like? What will next month look like? What is this New Year going to bring with it? As I reflect on looking ahead I hear the words of Christ come rushing in from the Sermon on the Mount, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” – Matthew 6:33-34 And I often wonder what that means to ‘seek first His kingdom’. Is it something I have to go looking for? Is it something I have to find? In another passage in the gospels we read this, “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” – Luke 17:20-21 Another translation says that the Kingdom of God is ‘within you’. But if it’s already here or in my midst or at hand then how do I access it, find it, seek it, participate in it?

Even though at times they may loose remotes, my kids often times help me see the Kingdom of God in ways I wouldn’t ordinarily see. I love to get their takes on church or relationships or events or even just sit down and watch a movie with them. They see Jesus in literally everything. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3 If the Kingdom of Heaven is all around us then maybe it just takes the eyes and faith of a child to enter into it. Maybe seeking after the kingdom has less to do with us searching and looking and more to do with us realizing we are already a part of it and living as if that were the case. I think children help us out here as well. If you’ve ever been part of imaginative play with children then you know what I am about to say is true. In imagination there is no other world outside of play. Maybe that is what it means to seek first His kingdom. There is no other reality but the Kingdom of God. All of the powers and systems and authorities  and politics and economies that vie for our attention aren’t the real. The real is what we are called to see not with our grown up eyes, but with our childlike faith. And maybe if we start to believe in that, we really will see the Kingdom of God at hand.


resolve

How many of us actually expect to keep them? I think the success rate, at least according to the internet (and everything out here is true), is roughly around 8%. But yet every time a New Year rolls around we find our selves resolving to be better. Whether it is kicking a bad habit, losing weight, becoming more healthy, etc., it is almost a rite of passage into a new year to resolve to augment our behavior in some way that will make us better. Somehow the idea of a fresh start is just the spark we need to radically alter who we were just yesterday…kind of sounds silly in print. And yet I find myself being in with the crowd on these as well. But one resolution has always plagued me a bit.  It goes like this; “I resolve to draw closer to God.”

Now at face value this is a great resolution. Who wouldn’t want to draw closer to God? I know I do. I think the problem is how we go about it. We think somehow that drawing closer to God is something that is achieved on an individual level. As if he can only be encountered in my resolve to be personally accountable to His presence. And although I realize that we need time alone with God I believe that if we want to draw closer to God it looks a little different. Frank Weston, the one time Bishop of Zanzibar in the Anglican church wrote the following more than a hundred years ago:                                                              You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the tabernacle if you do not pity Jesus in the slum. … It is folly, it is madness, to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacrament and Jesus on the throne of glory, when you are sweating Him in the bodies and souls of His children. . . . You have your Mass, you have your altars, you have begun to get your tabernacles. Now go out into the highways and hedges, and look for Jesus in the ragged and the naked, in the oppressed and the sweated, in those who have lost hope, and in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them; and, when you have found Him, gird yourself with His towel of fellowship and wash His feet in the person of His brethren.

Here is what I think I am trying to say. If you really want to resolve to draw closer to God this year then resolve to draw closer to the people He died for. By sharing God’s love and life with others we find a way to encounter God like never before. Jesus himself put it this way in Matthew 25:38-40 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’.”

So by all means resolve to draw closer to God this year. It could be the greatest resolution you make. But be certain, it can never be done within the walls of your own safety and security. Rather it is only through reaching out in Christ’ love to those who haven’t been encountered yet for the Kingdom. Here you will draw closer to God.


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