Today’s post is taken from a 2011 article my husband penned for our local paper…
“This year I am going to exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, quit smoking, be a better spouse, give more to charity, spend more time with my family, etc…”
Yes, it is that time of year again when many reflect on the past year and make hopeful resolutions for the New Year.
This New Year may I propose to you the need we all have to reflect more upon an old resolution too often forgotten. While it is still believed in the church, it is not applied every Sunday the way it should.
After 9/11 the NFL debated whether or not to cancel their Sunday games that week as the country mourned. Head football coach of the New York Jets, Herm Edwards was interviewed and asked whether having the games on Sunday would be a good distraction for people. He responded by saying, “You want a distraction – go to church!”
Is church really a distraction for people today? Is what people hear from the pulpit something different than what they already do Monday thru Saturday?
I am not immune to sin. I struggle to believe that God loves a sinner like me. I wonder whether God’s grace will finally reach an end-point with me, and at times I doubt that change is possible.
I get beat up and broken during the week. So what I need on Sunday is not to hear more about myself and all I need to do for God – what I need to hear is more about a Savior and all that God has done for me in Jesus.
I need to be distracted from myself!
Sunday is meant to be a Divine Distraction! A day that the Lord has set aside to be a day where broken, sinful people can be put back together and made whole again by hearing a message, not about themselves, but about a conquering Hero who has done all of the work necessary to ensure that God’s presence is with me.
On Sunday, I need to hear about Jesus. I need to rest in His work, not mine! The old resolution that we need to reflect more on this New Year is that we cannot rely on ourselves to live the Christian life – we must rely on the power of God to work through the preaching of the gospel.
The Apostle Paul knows that only the gospel has the power to pick up the pieces and put people back together.
Rom 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for IT IS the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
The Gospel is the power of God for our salvation because the proclamation of the gospel pushes the Person and work of Jesus into our lives and propels us to look, not to ourselves, but to Him alone as the Source and Sustainer of all of our salvation from start to finish.
The Gospel is Good News, because the power of the gospel pushes Jesus’ personal incarnation into our lives. God becoming human means that God came FOR you to be WITH you! He did not leave you to yourself to suffer the consequences for what your sins deserve. He left heaven and came to earth, took on flesh in order to rescue you not only from God’s wrath, but also from yourself.
The power of the gospel also pushes Jesus’ perfect sinless life into our lives. Only Jesus obeyed all of God’s commands perfectly, which means that Jesus lived FOR you!
He was faithful to God for you, He fulfilled God’s righteous requirements for you, He loved God and neighbor perfectly for you. His righteousness is what God covers all of your unrighteousness with. So your right standing before God has nothing to do with you and what you do, but everything to do with what Jesus already did!
The power of the gospel pushes Jesus’ punishing death into your life. Jesus suffered and died FOR you, in your place! All of God’s wrath for all of your sin was poured out on Jesus. For those who believe, there is no more wrath, no more anger, no more punishment – only God’s smile, God’s love, God’s acceptance.
Lastly, the gospel pushes the power of Jesus’ resurrection into your life. Jesus’ resurrection is God announcing to the world that death does not have the final word!
Jesus has conquered sin, death, and the devil.
Death could not hold Jesus because He never sinned to deserve it. Because Jesus was raised to newness of life – righteousness and grace reign. Christ reigns! So there is always hope for change. Everything that is true of Jesus is true for all who trust in Jesus.
This New Year instead of trusting in yourself, trust in this old resolution that Jesus came for you, lived for you, died for you, and was raised to newness of life for you.
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