The clock is ticking…
Well, here it is, January 7th and I still haven’t made a New Year’s resolution. I am not sure if there is a deadline on such things but, if there is, I am sure I am getting close.
There is no shortage of people willing to help me find a resolution to make. Ads are filling the TV airwaves, newspapers and my mailbox for weight loss plans, fitness clubs, exercise equipment and other ways to improve myself. The shelves of Christian book stores are bending under the weight of books ready to help me be a better husband, prayer, giver, Bible-reader, witness and all around great Christian. I probably should get busy and pick one. So what is stopping me?
Well, for one thing, the memory of years of failure on attempts to improve myself does not give me much hope. I never seem to have enough will power and gumption to carry through on such promises to myself. But still, there has to be some resolution I can make that will work, doesn’t there? The whole subject is a sure-fire recipe for misery.
But then I had a clue on my resolution in Luke 9:52-55. “And he (Jesus) sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him, but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them…”
So how is that a clue to a good resolution for the New Year? Well, it gives me insight into James and, more particularly, John. These guys were something else. No wonder they had the nickname “sons of thunder.” How many evangelism courses have you taken that end with “and if they don’t accept Christ, kill them.”
But “son of thunder” is not the nickname that we remember John by. He is more commonly known as “The apostle of love.” In his later writings he says things like “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” I John 4:7. Just how did a son of thunder, every ready to slay the unbelieving, become the apostle of love?
Well, frankly, we don’t know. Perhaps it was when he held the weeping Mary as they watched her son die. Or maybe it was when he heard Jesus say “Father, forgive them.” Or perhaps it was when he peeked into the empty tomb on that glorious Sunday morning. But somewhere along the line he changed. And I doubt he had any New Year resolutions or Christian self-help books to assist him. He never tells us.
In any event, it gave me my resolution for this New Year. Here it is: I resolve to get out of the way and let God do the improving in me. It sure is a lot easier. I have no books to read, exercises to follow, things to do. But somehow it seems like a coward’s way out, doesn’t it? I have no role to play at all.
But think about it. Just what role did I play in my salvation? Zero. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. I had about as much a role to play then as Lazarus did in getting out of the tomb when Jesus called him to rise from the dead. Why should I assume that, now that I have been miraculously saved, that Jesus is now saying “You take over from here, Tom.”
I have a feeling that the reason John didn’t write any book entitled “How to go from a Son of Thunder to an Apostle of Love in 10 easy steps” is that he really didn’t know. He just went on loving Jesus and one day found that it had happened. But that is my plan for a 2012 resolution.