What do you say about a New Year? A new chance. A new plan. A new road to walk. Maybe a new opportunity. For some it might mean rescue. Others might see the New Year as a chance to start over. Still more may look at it as time to forget the past. Let me share with you something that is plaguing me. The New Year is about more than fulfilling the American Dream.
Here’s what I mean. If you’ve been waiting till January 1st to start some fad diet that you will quit by February 1st, will you let me humbly suggest a different angle? Maybe you are excited about 2016 because you believe this will be the year you will finally make it big. Maybe this year is an opportunity for you to get the car with heated and cooled seats or take the shopping trip you haven’t had in six months or go for a trip on the luxury liner. Again, will you allow me the chance to suggest another angle?
2016 is not about you. This old world has been spinning just the same as it has spun for the past however many years, depending on your take on that issue. Whatever the case, there have been millions of people who came before you and are now gone. There will be millions after you. What matters most in 2016 is not whether or not you advance your portfolio or add to your 401k. For the Christ follower, what matters most in this New Year is whether or not you will advance the Gospel into the lives of people who do not already have access to Him. Period.
Hear me out. I’m not saying there is ANYTHING wrong with the list I’ve compiled here today. 401k’s are great and shopping trips can be fun. Most of us could use a little diet and I enjoy sitting in a heated seat every now and again. BUT if that is the sum total of your life, you’ve missed the Gospel Jesus invited us to. If your highest aim is serving yourself in some new way, hear these words and discover sobriety: get over yourself! Give yourself much less credit and follow Jesus!
I know these words sound harsh. They are meant to. There are many Christians in East Texas who will never read these words. They can’t afford a newspaper. Some can’t read. Many are choosing between a place to sleep or food to eat. Many more are making the choice between their daily meds and their utility bills. Your debate with yourself about the new fad diet is just too much. Hear the voice of Jesus on behalf of the brokenhearted and step into a place where God can use you. Let’s get together for the Gospel.
While I’m on a roll let me take one other soapbox. The New Year is not about returning to the good ole days of Americana. I hear people say all the time “I just wish we could go back to the good ole days.” What does that mean? Which days would you pick? One of the world wars? The Depression? How about the Cold War? Even if you single out the brief periods of relief following both world wars (the 20’s and the 50’s), think for a second about every other ethnicity living in America other than white people. Would people living under Jim Crow laws say those days were the “good ole days?” Most likely not.
Just because in your mind these times were good, does not mean the rest of the world loved them. And just because they were good for you does not mean that the present days cannot be great for you. I would challenge you to consider the New Year as an opportunity for New Birth. Consider it as a chance to meet Jesus all over again and experience the joy, the renewal, the life and vitality only He can bring.
I would challenge you to reconsider the church. You may have been hurt in the past. Can you honestly think of any relationship you’ve ever had that was completely void of hurt? Relationships just hurt. The deeper the trust, the more vulnerable we make ourselves to the pain. But relationships also bring love, freedom, and courage. They give us a chance to do things we would never do on our own. They remind us we are not alone and spring grace into our lives at the most needed times.
All in all a New Year is a chance. I encourage you to take a chance, make a dent, leave a legacy…live 2016 like it is your last. When your home is finished and Heaven is in your face, I think you and Jesus will both be pleased.