We should think beyond us.
It is Monday, so it must be New Year’s Eve. While the US keeps on arguing about the spin on how to deal with the first financial crisis on 2913 (due on 1 January) — the “fiscal cliff” many will be thinking about resolutions for the next year.
Most of them will be around giving up vices (drink, cigarettes, p0rn, food or certain types), increasing secular virtues (attend the gym, increase running distance)
Or you may be setting goals — to run this race, do this art, get this exam.
But we are told we should think differently.
5:16From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6:1As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!
12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 13Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I judge no one. 16Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” 19Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.
Now, the second passage helps the first. Because Christ points out that he does not need the external checks and balances and validation or certification that the Pharisees demanded through their legal process.
In the church, we should not think legalistically, but with love. This works both ways — we should not go dry, joyless and by the book nor should we take exceptions, in extreme cases, when the church shows mercy, as a means for licence.
For part of being human is to see a small precedent and use it to open wide that which should be shut: if an inch is given, take a mile.
So today, let’s think about our spiritual disciplines and structure first. Then think about what we would like. For what we like may not be what we need. We care called to think spiritually, and in part of this is thinking beyond ourselves.
I had to adjorn to McDonalds to finish this post, as the wifi in the motel keeps on cutting out. As I am sitting here, I can here a woman on a phone doing a whole pile of quite controlling organization of childcare, with the court being mentioned at least five or six times.
For many of us the wish we have is that we will spend more time with our kids. I’m fortunate: most of the time the boys live with me and the daughter lives with her husband and her brood. Perhaps the true resolution is to work towards that being the norm, not an exception.