— 2 Corinthians 5:17
Don’t know about you, but in 2015 I intend to eat better, get more exercise, spend more time in prayer and studying my Bible; I mean to work more, play more, stop laying around the house so much, and get more sleep. I mean to spend more time in silent meditation and more time socializing with friends. I mean to organize my desk at work, keep my bed made at home, work in the garden, work in the neighbor’s garden, plant a garden (note to self: do this before working in the garden), plant a tree, send cards to everyone not just at Christmas and birthdays, but other holidays as well. I will get the car fixed up and start riding my bicycle everywhere. I will decrease my carbon footprint while simultaneously upgrading all my appliances. I will stop and smell every flower while taking every phone call and posting a selfie a day. I will finally get that book read, that bush cut back, and that lamp fixed. Don’t know about you, but in 2015 I intend to be perfect.
There was a day when I thought that these kinds of promises had something to do with being a Christian. I had heard that having Christ in your heart brought a kind of perfection, a kind of fulfillment, a new creation. Everything old passed away, and we are given a fresh start, a clean slate. Here was my chance, I thought, to become the person I imagined I could be, the person I thought I wanted to be — the amazing guy who had it all together.
Well, so far it hasn’t panned out. I still find myself failing to achieve the goals I set for myself, breaking New Year’s resolutions, and generally falling short of the perfection I expected God to hand me on a platter. If I have grown in any way over the years, it is in the awe and gratitude I have toward other Christians who show God’s love in remarkable ways. Sometimes that love is shown through enormous amounts of effort and time spent for others — sometimes it’s just a word fitly spoken or a gesture or a hug. Sometimes it is the simple trust of one who says, “thank God...” or “Lord, have mercy…” Faith does not have to be extreme to be awesome. Our treasure is held in earthen vessels, Paul said (2 Cor. 4:7). We are imperfect and breakable. Imperfect and breakable, but loved.
In truth, I am expecting 2015 to be a lot like last year. In other words, I will have some successes and a few failures. Things will get better, but there will still be a few disappointments and some painful losses. We’ll all grow a little older — some of us wiser, others just more forgetful. The days will be decorated with the beauties of life and God will throw in countless unforeseen surprises. I will make a few unrealistic promises, attempt some uncompletable tasks, strive to be someone I’m not and be forced to face the predictable results. But whatever I do will be done in Christ, the one who makes us all a new creation — who perfects our imperfections and completes what we fail to attain. Maybe I’ll just spend 2015 concentrating on being more loving to God, my neighbors, my family and myself—whatever all that might mean. Then I’ll leave being amazing to God.