It’s a New Year! Do you have your resolutions in place? Our Editor Al shares this story as an encouragement for you to make the one resolution that is most important.
Recently I was riding to church with a friend, and with New Year’s right around the corner I asked him what his New Year’s resolutions were. His answer was simple yet profound: more of Jesus.
It was until a few days later that the power of that statement hit me. He didn’t respond with a list of things he hoped to quit or give up; even though I’m sure he has habits he wishes not to carry into 2014, as we all do. He also didn’t respond with a list of things that he hopes to do or accomplish; although I’m sure he has goals for the New Year, as we all do.
What impacted me wasn’t just in what my friend said, but in how he said it. He answered my question without any hesitation like it was a no-brainer, as if nothing else really matters in 2014 as long as he experiences more of Jesus. How impractical, you might say. What about accomplishing goals? What about making more money, becoming more disciplined, quitting bad habits, finding a romantic partner, getting into better shape? I took some time to ponder these thoughts, and here is what I discovered.
According to Matthew 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
What the parable is saying is that if we really knew the true beauty, value and worthiness of Jesus Christ nothing else would matter, and we would forsake everything for His loving arms. He is “the fairest among 10,000”, “altogether lovely”, and “full of grace and truth”. His bravery is unrivaled, His strength; unparalleled, and His love; unstoppable. If His Kingdom is as valuable as a rare treasure hidden in a field, that means Jesus, the King of this Kingdom, is infinitely more valuable! If we only could see how valuable He truly is our natural response would be to place Him at the center of our affection and desire. At the end of the day, what else really matters when you’ve just discovered a precious gem worth an innumerable amount of money?
Still seem impractical, well guess what? It is our King’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom and to meet all of our needs. That means He wants to take care of us in every way imaginable. He is like an extremely wealthy bachelor who is falling helplessly in love with a poverty stricken young lady. Because of his love for her he wants to spoil her and treat her to a lifestyle that she never dreamed possible. He wants to make sure that she doesn’t go hungry another day in her life, and instead eats only the finest foods.
That is Jesus’s heart for us. He is desperately in love with us. He left the riches of heaven to come to earth, “so that we through His poverty might become rich”. He was separated from His Father on the cross so that we would never be separated from Him. He was beaten so that we would never have to beat ourselves up for our mistakes. He received the punishment for our past, present and future sins so that we would never be punished for them. He received that punishment so that we could receive His righteousness and perfect standing before God. What an exchange! Since He allowed Himself to be fully judged for sin He can never be judged again; and likewise we can never be judged again, because “as He is so are we in this world”. He doesn’t place any conditions on His acceptance of us, He loves us just the way we are.
Is the practicality starting to become clearer? When you have Jesus you have the one who owns everything and is eager to give it you. If it’s more money you need, He’s got it. If it’s help with breaking a bad habit, He’s there to super-naturally break it for you. But most importantly you have Jesus, and nothing can bring more joy than having a relationship with Him. There is no joy like spending time in His presence and feeding on His love.
I have lifestyle habits that I wasn’t too proud of in 2013. I spent a good amount of time in the night-life scene, I struggled with lust, I said things I shouldn’t have at times. But instead of making resolutions to quit these things, or to go to the gym four times a week, or to produce X amount of results at work, I choose to steal my friend’s one resolution: to seek more of Jesus. I believe in goals, but I also believe that will-power can only go so far: Christ-power is what we need to carry out the changes we wish to make. Most importantly: even if all of my plans fail in 2014 and none of my desires come to fruition, I hope to be too deliriously over-joyed in the presence of Jesus to even realize it!
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