We all do it and well we should–start the new year resolving to do better. Maybe it’s eat better, exercise more, or work less. The resolution itself quickly takes a back seat to the resolve it takes from us to follow it through. This might happen because our resolutions are too ambitious. For instance, few of us can go from couch potato to marathon runner, and resolving to run a marathon before Easter might not be the best plan for hopping off the couch.
There might be another reason, however, that our resolve slips away. New resolutions require new habits and old habits are hard to break. For new habits to work, we must turn our back on the old ways. Scripture offers us a trove of resources for forming new habits and some warnings about how easy it is to revert to the familiar old ways. For starters, we hear:
- Put new wine into fresh wineskins (MT 9:17)
- Put your hand to the plow and don’t look back (LK 9:62)
- Repent, also translated as “turn around” (MT 4:17)
- Follow me (MK 10:21)
It appears we can’t fully embrace the new thing while looking backward or clinging to the past. Perhaps that’s why Jesus tells Nicodemus the only way to live into the Reign of God is to be Born “Again” (JN 3:1-8). The intentional play on words can also mean Born from Above or Born Anew. The point is, we can’t have it both ways. If we’re really intent on living into God’s good future for us and all of creation, we can’t drag our bad habits with us.
No one should suggest this is an easy enterprise or that there’s a quick fix. We must resolve and resolve again to move steadfastly toward the goals of the Gospel. Joining hands with others who are also moving that way will lighten the load. Check with the Council frequently as the year unfolds to see where we’re going and who’s going with us. Let it be our resolution.