I recently heard Andy Stanley speak about goals and resolutions. His premise was instead of making plans how we can improve ourselves over the coming year, we should instead determine how we might improve the life of someone else. That’s a great shift to get our thinking off of ourselves and onto others. I guarantee you will have better results and greater happiness in your life if you consistently focus on serving others more than yourself. It’s the model Jesus taught, and therefore the one we were created to live. Everything we do should be with the goal of helping others, and our New Year’s resolutions or life goals should always be formed with this in mind.
Part of the fallout from modern Christianity confusing following Christ with pursuing the American dream is the rise of ‘Suburban Christianity’. This is the expression of our faith that is steeped in the illusion of serving others while really hiding behind a veil of safety and selfishness. Having spent the past ten years living in suburbia, I have found myself leaning into this mentality from time to time. We convince ourselves that we are the part of the body that supplies the funds for those working closer to the real problems. I am not disputing there may be some truth in that way of thinking, but at the same time we must be careful to not use that as an excuse to remain sheltered in our safe, comfortable, and predictable worlds.
Unfortunately, rarely does a day go by where you don’t read or see a story where a “Christian” is saying or doing something that impugns the character of Christ. I hope they meant well by their actions, but the reality is they make Jesus less attractive to the public. A lot of this can be traced to some really bad theology taught in the last couple hundred years. Ultimately the blame rests on we who swallowed the teaching without ever bothering to test the validity of it. We are all imperfect beings and we all have our own issues. But we must never forget that the reason for our existence is to reflect the love and beauty of Jesus Christ.
New chapters are always exciting. I can’t count the number of nights I’ve stayed up too late because I couldn’t wait to see what the next chapter would bring in the book I was reading. There is an excitement in wondering where the story will lead next. What unexpected twists might we encounter when we turn the page? Our life is an ever unfolding story, and just like a great book, new chapters present exciting opportunities if we only dare to turn the page. New chapters are like new beginnings. We have put the previous ones behind us and there’s no going back. We must move forward to discover how things will play out.
Keith Green once said that, “This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls.” I would also argue that this generation of believers is responsible for modeling how to live for Jesus to the generation that is following us. I saw this displayed beautifully today. A single mother of five children had her tire blow out on a busy freeway. Because her spare tire was flat, she ended up walking miles (literally) to get to a phone, where she reached out to a pastor and his wife with whom she was acquainted. She needed help, and she needed a friend.