You are most likely reading this article in the middle of the week after Christmas. If you were fortunate enough to be surrounded by your family and friends during this season of unprecedented challenges, they have either already left or will be leaving soon. If you have children in the house, they are probably preparing to return to school next week.
The week after Christmas is generally reserved for making new year’s resolutions and formulating a plan to accomplish these resolutions. The majority of these resolutions are an attempt to shed the extra pounds that we gained over the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Other resolutions include getting in shape, making more money, spending more time with family, reading more books, quitting a bad habit…The list goes on and on. I would like to suggest that you take your new year’s resolution in a different direction this year. Philippians 1:23 says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…”
Last week we discussed the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As humans we are inherently sinful. The penalty for our sin is eternal separation from God. There is nothing any of us can do on our own to pay the penalty for our sin and be seen as righteous in the eyes of God. So, God showed his love for us by sending his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. This means that when God looks at those of us who repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ, He no longer sees our sin! Instead, He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ; the one who walked on this earth, faced the same challenges we do (and much more!) and did not sin. In Mark 1:15 Jesus called people to “repent and believe in the gospel.” In Romans 10:9 the Apostle Paul says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
It is important we understand that the life of a true Christian goes beyond simply telling others you are a Christian. It goes beyond wearing Christian t-shirts and sporting a mug that says, “I start my mornings with Jesus and coffee!” It goes beyond attending church every week. It goes beyond Bible study and prayer group. Those things are important in the life of a Christian, but they are not the means to our salvation. The life of a true Christian is one lived in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus calls us to repent of our sins. Repentance goes beyond simply being sorry for our sins. True repentance is to change your mind about your sin. A truly repentant heart no longer takes joy in the things that the Bible defines as sinful. Instead, the heart of a true Christian finds its joy and satisfaction in Jesus Christ. We must no longer be satisfied with our pursuit of more money and faster cars and bigger houses and a vacation home and so on. Instead, our satisfaction is in the Lord.
For many of us, myself included, paying closer attention to our physical health should definitely be among our new year’s resolutions. However, I encourage you to add paying attention to your spiritual health to your new year’s resolutions as well. This year make it your most important resolution to live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.