When it’s time for the church to set a new year’s resolution
2021 is well underway. Is it everything you’ve hoped for? Everything you’ve expected?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this new year, it’s that the turning of a calendar changes nothing but the date. And perhaps getting through the first month has allowed us to realize that things aren’t magically fixed. The pandemic is still here, and the stress and frustrations of last year are still very much with us. Perhaps you’ve realized, like many of us, that things won’t simply change because we so desperately want them to. Changes will happen when we decide to back those desires up with action.
A common pattern for many in the new year is to have a “new year’s resolution”. Many of us have a vision/desire to get our health on track or to lose weight, so we set resolutions of going back to the gym, or eating better, or cutting out alcohol. But our intentions aren’t enough. Just saying we’ll go to the gym isn’t going to make anything happen. No, we need to follow up with action before we can expect to see any sort of change occur.
But what if we expanded on this idea? What if we, as a church, as the body of Christ, decided to create a new year’s resolution?
We all know that the church body has taken a massive hit in this past year. Between being torn apart politically, feeling isolated due to the inability to gather in person, and several members walking away feeling discouraged or frustrated with God, we are finding ourselves in a place of desperately needing to get refocused.
Many have looked to the church and to Christians to see how we would handle this dumpster fire. Would we be kind and compassionate? Would we fend for ourselves? Would we send money to help those struggling? Would we remain quiet? Would we stay true and follow the guidelines when reopening churches? Or would we toss them out for the sake of welcoming anyone and everyone with open arms? Even in the attempt to dust ourselves off and find our footing, there have been congregations looking at each other in judgment over disagreements on how to move forward. And all of it, every little disagreement, has acted as another strike on the head of a wedge that digs deeper, separating the body of Christ.
This is not what we were called to do. This is not who we were called to be.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)
What if our new year’s resolution as a church, was something that would unify us? One that would allow us to come together by using our different gifts and remind us of what we were called to? What if the church’s new year resolution was simply to love?
There has been so much hatred and divide in our country over this past year, and somehow the church has gotten itself wrapped up in that. We are all different, we know this. We have different gifts and functions. Knowing this should give us more of a reason to come together to be able to operate as the full body of Christ, not break us apart.
So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.Romans 12:5 (ESV)
Most of us are familiar with the 1 Corinthians 12 passage where Paul talks about the different parts and functions of a body and how all are necessary. But yet, somehow, we’ve managed to allow these differences to tear us apart, causing us to miss the major point. And that is to work together to extend the love of Christ! And that love should extend to those who are both within and outside of the church.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 1:34-35 (ESV)
Let this be a season when the church, the body of Christ, finds its way to connect back with each other to be the hands and feet of Christ, extending love and comfort to a broken and dying world, and not just be another layer of noise adding to the chaos. Choosing to actively extend God’s love is not something that will make a massive change overnight, but allow it to be a decision that you make every morning when you wake up.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.Colossians 3:14-16
We’ve become so wrapped up in what we believe to be the right or wrong way of doing things. Let’s not forget to love. To reunite the body, but to also be able to extend God’s love to those who need it. To those who are watching us. To those who are getting turned off to Christ because of how petty the church body has become. Those are the people we need to reach. But we can’t do that when we’re so focused on disagreement and offense amongst our own brothers and sisters.
Though we are already into the second month of the year, it’s never too late to get refocused, to set a resolution, and take action on it. Let it be love.