A New Year resolution (Jan. 9, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

A New Year resolution

Jan. 9, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht* 
mwacht@flumc.org, Orlando  {0002}

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

Many people begin the new year by making resolutions to change their lives. “This will be the year,” they resolve, “when I shall control my diet, my schedule or my temper.”

I have always suspected that making resolutions is not a practice that is sufficiently or distinctively Christian in its approach to changing one’s life. It assumes what Christians have called the Pelagian heresy, the notion that we can change ourselves by our willpower.

Rather than merely make a list of resolutions to change our lives, Christians seek to change by participating in the life of Jesus Christ by faith. We believe that he is the true human being, and we believe that we are transformed to become who we really are by praying for power from God to imitate him. Our purpose in life is “to be conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Romans 8:29).

Christ is the center of the Christian life because he is the One of whom it is written, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). This means, in part, that Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God who came among us to live our life. What is so amazing about this message is that when the Word of God became a human being he assumed our humanity in its rebellious and corrupt state.

It was not our humanity in its perfect, original state that the Word of God assumed, but our humanity in its present, fallen state. As Gregory Nazianzen of the 4th century once said, “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved.” In other words, Jesus Christ as the Word made flesh appropriated our sinful human nature in order to heal and restore it. Jesus Christ was born into our sin, but he did not sin, and thus he converted our disobedient human nature back into its true nature. And all of us who have faith in him are ourselves transformed as we become more like him by the energy of God’s Spirit.
The only new year resolution that matters is to turn our lives toward Christ in faith and to be open to the change that happens as we conform to his image by the power of the Spirit. Then, we become “participants of the divine nature” whose agenda is to “make every effort to support (our) faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love” (2 Peter 1:4-5).


This commentary relates to Spiritual Formation.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Annual Conference.

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