New Year vs. New Life
We are now seven days into 2015 and if you’ve kept your resolution this long, you are doing better than three-quarters of Americans. According to a University of Scranton survey, only 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and 75% of those people abandon them after one week.
The Resolution Cycle
It seems like every time the end of a year comes around, I begin thinking about how much better I want to be in the coming year. Then I start reliving all of the times I messed up the year before. This annual rehashing of my shortcomings is inevitably followed by a list of resolutions:
- “I won’t be mean to anyone next year.”
- “I’m going to lose 20 pounds.”
- “I’m going to read my Bible every single day.”
- “I’m going to give money to every homeless person who asks for some.”
- “I’m not going to eat any regular-sized candy bars.”
I call this yearly exercise “the resolution cycle.” Basically, I resolve to fix myself the following year, but by the end of the year, I’m right back where I started. Maybe I kept my resolution or maybe I didn’t, but I find myself coming up short and still needing to be fixed.
Why is it so hard to keep resolutions? Why do 75% of people break them within the first week and over half of people don’t even make them in the first place? Resolution keeping is so difficult because everything is up to us, the weight rests firmly on our shoulders. What if starting new has nothing to do with a resolution?
This year I’m not going to fall back into the resolution cycle because God has been teaching me that New Life is better than a new year. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a New Life has begun!” Jesus took all of the times we’ve messed up, all of our broken resolutions, and all of our sin with him to the cross. Through Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection, he offers us New Life! We can’t buy this New Life or even resolve to earn it by being a better person; it only comes through Christ.
Being made new by Jesus was a one-time event, we don’t have to fix ourselves every year. If we have accepted Christ’s offer of New Life, our lives have been permanently changed. We are unconditionally loved and accepted not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of who Christ is and what he has done.
Breaking the Cycle
We don’t have to start each new year with the resolution cycle. Resolutions aren’t bad in and of themselves, but we have to realize that they don’t have any bearing on the way that God sees us. Because of Christ, all of the guilt that we once carried is gone, all of the shame we once lived under has been taken away. We have been made new.
As Jesus hung on the cross, right before he died, he said “it is finished.” He meant that the need for striving, for self-improvement, for resolving to be a better person was gone. He had completely and perfectly “fixed us” on the cross. Stop trying to fix yourself and take the burden off your shoulders. Give it to Jesus and he will give you New Life. And New Life is WAY better than a new year.