by Bil Aulenbach

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My New Year’s Resolution

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Lots of people do, or at least, they say they will.

My gym is very quiet in December. But when I go to my spin class (stationary bikes) on January 2, that class will be packed with folks who put going to the gym on their 2019 resolution list.

By February 1, I suspect my spin class will be back to its normal size for three reasons:

  1. Spinning is much more strenuous than it looks.
  2. Going to the gym regularly is a discipline, not a resolution.
  3. A gym resolution is one of the easiest to break.

Every year, I make the same resolution and have never broken it: I resolve not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. Some might suggest that isn’t really a resolution but a cop-out.

As a faith-based person, I find I have to make new resolutions or start over almost daily. I can’t afford to wait for January 1. My beliefs demand that I constantly make new resolutions, mostly because I broke the old ones.

Three boxes of candy arrived this Christmas season. Throughout out the year, I usually avoid candy. But those See’s bonbons taste so good that whenever I pass the box, I take a treat. I rationalize that it will give me energy even though I know better.

The apostle Paul speaks to me occasionally in his letters. Even though I don’t like his theology (the idea that Jesus died for my sins), sometimes he resonates with me, like in 1 Corinthians 13, where he says, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love . . . I am nothing” (13:1–2). This chapter is all about agape.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul shares another good principle: “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (I call that spirit Creation). I like that idea, so on a daily basis, I keep my body exercised, fed with good fuel, and treated like the precious gift it is.

Since I usually stay healthy, I can be creative with my resolutions. When the candy boxes are empty, I’ll go back to my no-candy resolution and clean up my temple.

Another daily resolution of mine is to practice agape—to treat others with respect and love them unconditionally, even that homeless person on the street corner begging for money. A smile, a friendly greeting, and a dollar could make his or her day.

Luke 6:42 asks, “How can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye?” Yikes! Why do I do that? I’m only human, but I need to remember my resolution to stop judging and accept others, no matter where they are on their life’s journey. I mess this one up more than I want to.

The boss (Jesus) says I must forgive everyone, not once or twice but seventy times seven times, which means infinitely. He even says I have to love my enemies, not just on January 1 but every day.

In the Gospel of John 21:15–17, Jesus tells Peter (and me) three times to “feed my lambs,” “tend my sheep,” and “feed my sheep.” In other words, I have to show agape to my fellow human beings in any way I can daily.

I could go on and on with all the directions from Jesus, my Christ, but I think you get the point: we Followers have to make new resolutions daily because that is the only way we can make agape work.

Happy New Year! I hope it’s full of agape.

Image courtesy of Donald Kautz (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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