New Year, New Me

St. Mark Ministries   -  

January 1, 2021
By Tim Babler
“New Year, New Me!” This is a phrase that seems to be the most popular hashtag and social media post of the beginning of each year. When the clock strikes midnight on January first, people seem to believe that something magical will happen. “Somehow I’ll have that motivation to be a gym rat.” “This year I’m really going to stick to my diet, I need to get that summer swimsuit body!” “2021 will be the year that I find love, I just know that’s God’s plan for me.” Or maybe for you it sounds more like, “This year I really need to get back to church. If 2021 has taught me anything, surely it’s that this world needs a whole lot of Jesus.”

And you’re definitely not wrong. Let’s be honest here for a moment. There truly isn’t a magical moment at the beginning of the year. Many of these resolutions are well-intentioned, but they lack true purpose. Why do you want to become a regular at the gym? Will getting that perfect beach body really make you happy? Will finding the love of your life be so life-changing that all is now right in the world? It might feel that way in the short-term, but true long-term happiness is not found in the things of this world. Not to mention how many resolutions fail within the first month of the year. 12:00:01 on 01/01/2021 is a second just like any other of the year.

So why are we so bound by the idea that we need to be perfect from the start? If I skip a day at the gym do I just have to give up? If I have a cheat meal is my whole diet ruined? And what happens if the person I fell in love with ends up not being right for me? I’ll say it again: true long-term happiness is not found in the things of this world. Let’s go back for a minute to the resolution about church attendance stated above. If  you found yourself lost and wandering aimless during 2020 just know you’re not alone. When it seemed like nothing was normal in life, so many people fell out of routine. And for many, one of those routines was regular church attendance. After awhile, it just didn’t seem worth it anymore. It started out with the idea that waking up and staying in my comfy clothes and grabbing a hot cup of coffee Sunday morning was ideal while tuning into church at home. Then it was just easier to catch the message sometime during the week between Zoom work meetings or after putting the kids to bed. And maybe it just became harder and harder to fit God into your schedule at all. You may have the best of intentions, but when church can be on demand, are you really missing it? “I can always go back and watch it later.” “Next month I’ll have more time and I can just binge the last series.”

“I’m going to start watching two sermons a week so I can catch up.” Friends, worship is not Netflix. The Church is not a 15-minute video. Worship attendance is not a resolution. If we make worship attendance into something we have the best intentions to do, what happens when we miss a week? Do we just try again next year? Do we just give up all together? Let’s not make returning to worship, whether in-person or digitally for the time being, simply a New Year’s resolution. Let’s live our lives in such a way that God and His Word are the priority in our lives. Yes, things come up. Yes, there will be weeks we cannot attend in person. But when worship is a way of life rather than a resolution, it truly is life changing. And no, it’s not some magical moment when you step foot in the sanctuary for the first time in 2021. It’s the power of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit that can shatter through our walls of sin and unbelief and bring us into God’s presence. And God never changes. That’s life-changing. That’s where we can find true happiness. New Year, Same God. New Year, New Me.