Happy new year! Did you make any resolutions?
New Year’s resolutions have gone from being notions for self-improvement and have become key factors in western economies. Think of it: were it not for New Year’s resolutions, where would fitness facilities make all their money? As one person tweeted last week, “This is the last week that the gym won’t be crowded for a while.” Why is that? Because people make resolutions about their physical fitness, buy gym memberships, use them for a while, and break their resolutions. The same is true with weight-loss programs and other self-help regimes that we think will make a difference.
I’ve never been one for resolutions, but goals are another thing. When we set goals for ourselves – specific, measurable goals – we have a much better chance of attaining them. What’s more, when we write down our goals, and give ourselves realistic deadlines to meet them, we have an even better chance of meeting them. What can help us even more is to share our goals with others, particularly if those other people are interested in working with us to attain our goals.
Community matters. For example, if I join a gym on my own, and go on my own, I have no outside influences to encourage me to keep going. However, if I join a hockey team, the rest of the team will notice if I’m not there (especially if I’m the goaltender!). When we are part of a team, our participation is not just a private matter, but a team matter.
The same is true in our life of faith. If we want to deepen our walk with the Lord, it can be very hard to do on our own, but if we are part of a community, we share that journey together. I want to encourage you to make your spiritual development a priority this year. However, it won’t be much different than the gym membership that gets used for a couple of months and left to languish if we try to do it all by ourselves. Consider involving a friend, or a few friends! Join a small group for deeper fellowship and study. If you’ve not been part of a church community for a while, ask a friend to come with you when you check out a church. Be involved together. Share your journey. Ask questions of each other, and ask questions together.
And furthermore, ask God to be present with you as you undertake this venture. God understands the value of community, because in one sense, God is community! God is One, and God is Triune: one God, three Persons. If we ask the Lord to be another partner with us in our journey, we will find that it becomes easier, because God will pour out his grace upon us. He will welcome our desire to know him better.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4.12, NIV).
Have a great year in the Lord!