Real Resolutions

By the time you read this it will most likely be early to mid April. Only the most durable of your New Year’s resolutions will remain if, in fact, there are any left unbroken (do you even remember them?). There is, however, still much that is yet to done in 2015 so it is still worth considering how this year could be different or at least how you might act differently. Might I suggest the following strategy? Why not do a bit of an inventory of your actual responsibilities – the things you have to do as distinct from the things your thought you might like to do while on Summer holiday – and once you have a list go through each one and ask yourself, What does the Lord Jesus deserve here? Think of it as an important variation on the more popular What would Jesus do? and the frankly more abstract What is God will? To consider the various aspects of life and ask, What does the Lord Jesus deserve? is certainly not as catchy as WWJD and probably wouldn t look as good on a wristlet or snap-back (for those who know and or care). Nevertheless, subjecting one’s lifestyle to this kind of scrutiny has a number of advantages.

The first advantage is that considering what the Lord Jesus deserves from our lives is a great way to keep our lives in perspective. Sydney Christians are, in general, almost belligerently informal when it comes to discipleship. For example it seems that one of the things that gets Sydney Anglicans most uptight about their weekly gathering is whether it is relaxed enough or not. It is hardly surprising then when we face daily responsibilities we wonder what Jesus would do as if he was one of our preferred lifestyle gurus with a hundred handy hints for what to do with that shady spot in the back yard or how to turn what’s left in the bottom of the fridge into a Blumenthalesque feast for 8! I am exaggerating of course but only a little bit when we realise that we worship the Lord Jesus for what He has done – His life, death, resurrection for the fulfilment of all God’s saving promises.

There is a vast gap in importance between what Western (largely) middle-class citizens of a prosperous and peaceful metropolis like Sydney get up to in comparison to the words and actions of Christ Jesus, the royal and eternal Son of God. My choices are very important to me I here you say. No doubt they are but with all due respect, nothing you do this year or any other will be as significant to your or for you, as what the Lord Jesus has already done for you. As Paul told the Colossians He has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him. (1:22) These words are, or should be, exceedingly good news since it means that before God we are free to make choices as to how we shall live confident that through Jesus and in His Spirit we have favour with our great God and heavenly Father. Hence as John said, if anyone does sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1Jn.2:1-2)

Once we have our lives in the perspective of what only the Lord Jesus could have done -he knew no sin, became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2Cor.5:21) – we are then free to consider the manner in which Jesus did the things he did as an example of how to relate to God, in the first instance, and to each other, in the second. The Lord Jesus, who had the Spirit without limit, (Jn.3:34) was loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and self-controlled. (Cf. Gal.5:23) Therefore should you have any concern as to what to do or the manner in which to do it, we need only consider What does the Lord Jesus deserve here? Obviously one thing he deserves in every situation is that we act graciously.

The second advantage of considering what the Lord Jesus deserves from our lives is that the Bible is full of what God the Father thinks His Son deserves. Consider just a couple of purple passages:

God made known to us the mystery of His will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to sum up all things in him, the Christ (Eph.1:9;10 author’s trans)

God highly exalted Him and gave Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil.2:9-11)

If you have ever wondered what was God’s (frequently mysterious) will for your life, then the first verse will certainly help you to find your place in the universe. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul tells us that from before there was a creation (1:4) God the Father intended to sum everything up in Jesus the Christ. That is, everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is directed towards our heavenly Father’s desire |(or will) to make the reign of Jesus the goal of creation. All things have been created through Him and for Him. (Col.1:17) The universe and everything in it exists to be the place where the Lord Jesus reigns. In case that is not quite concrete enough for you, Paul also points out that when the universe has reached its ultimate goal, everything in it will be directed towards worshipping Jesus as Lord. John has an even more graphic picture (complete with song words) in Rev.5:

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!

Once again, the question of what Jesus deserves puts our lives into perspective only this time it is a universal one. If you are part of the universe then whatever you do this year or, more likely, all the things you have to do this year are being directed by God towards the universal and everlasting acclamation of the Lord Jesus – this is the concrete way the Bible refers to the glory of God the Father.

So, if nothing else, as you consider your various responsibilities for this year and even the things you d like to do just because our generous God has blessed us with peace and prosperity, consider how you might give your small part of the universe a preview of what God the Father has in store. Another way of asking what Jesus deserves of our lives is to say, How can I make the Lord Jesus look good when I m at church or where I live or work or where ever I learn or study?

David Höhne

David lectures in Theology, Philosophy and Church History.

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