January 2002: A Resolution
January 2, 2002
This is not a New Year's resolution. It is, however, a resolution born of the year just ended, a year whose repercussions I will long feel but perhaps never fully understand. It is also a prayer, because only the Holy Spirit could give any of us the strength to live up to it.
- In spite of the urge to remain quiet when people proclaim other gospels, I will insist that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. I won't shout this in arrogance, nor qualify it as merely a private 'value' or one option among many, nor share it only with those who already know. Instead I will simply tell the good news of the Messiah's death and new life for our sake. It was not invented by Paul, nor wished into being by delusional disciples or the emotionally needy, nor written into corrupted scriptures, but was authored by God himself and given to all as the fundamental sign of his undeserved favor. Rival storytellers cannot defeat the good news by ignoring its power, or twisting it into means of self-service, or persecuting its witnesses, or forcibly converting and enslaving and killing us. Only we witnesses can defeat it, by losing our nerve. Our Father in heaven, let your name be hallowed.
- In spite of the joys of seeing Al-Qaeda being defeated, freedom returning to Afghanistan, and America still acting (by and large) honorably, I will point to the Church of Jesus Christ as the world's ultimate means of grace. It is built upon Israelites of Jesus' own choosing and held together by his Holy Spirit. In my work I will seek first to strengthen the Church for the tasks God has given it. Your kingdom come.
- In spite of the social pressure to reduce faithfulness to public patriotism, I will show my ultimate loyalty to the Kingdom of God, a reign that spans ages, peoples, cultures, classes, and governments. I will serve the kingdom faithfully, as Jesus and his companions did, even when it discomforts and contradicts the world's authorities. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
- In spite of the temptation to look after only myself in a Darwinian world where only power finally matters, I will follow Jesus, who considered others better than himself. He relied on the blessings of God's providence rather than the gains of his self-interest. He ushers us into an age where fear and greed are overcome by love of God and neighbor. Give us today our daily bread.
- In spite of the longing to fight fire with fire and answer sword with sword, I will look to the crucified and risen Jesus and repay evil with good. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Forgive us of our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
- In spite of the childish need to grumble against both worldly and churchly authorities, I will respect those God has put in positions to encourage good conduct and punish bad, for Jesus is king of kings and lord of lords. May they see the works of his Spirit, and glorify God on the day of judgment. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
- In spite of the horror of seeing people murder in God's name, the outrage of seeing others rejoice in the act, the deja vu of seeing Jews scapegoated, the disappointment of seeing fellow Americans trust in their own power rather than God's justice, and the discouragement of seeing the West's love of liberty crowd out its love of truth, I will rest my hope in Jesus, conqueror of sin and death. He alone lived a fully righteous life according to God's Torah. He was vindicated by being raised from the dead. He was exalted by ascending to sit at the Father's right hand, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
- In spite of the delusion that the past and future are merely human constructions, I will look to the risen Jesus for the clearest sign that the world is God's old and new creation, originally and finally good. And I will rejoice that despite all our failings, our sovereign God, in his fathomless grace, has given us parts to play in its perfection, through and in and for Christ. Amen.