We are now several months into the new year and I wonder; how are your resolutions doing? If you are anything like me, they are not quite panning out. I’ve already thrown in the towel! Still, making New Years’ resolutions can at least give one a sense of hope, if nothing else. I would like to hope, as each year rolls around, that some prospect exists for a remediation of life; lose weight, be more efficient in use of time, “smell the roses” a bit more often, and so forth. But, in my heart, I know better.
There is something going on here that cuts deeply into the reality of life in God’s world, life lived under the demands of God’s law.
Theologian Gerhard Forde once wrote,
“…it is the supernatural pretension of law, its unbreakable absoluteness that makes it unbearable and drives man in his endless quest to be rid of it.”
The simple reason we never seem to arrive at the fulfillment of our lives (thus, the return to annual resolutions) is because the expectations of fulfillment are always one step ahead of us. The law is always ahead of us. Always.
Again, Forde writes; “Law does two things to us, come what may. It sets limits to sinful and destructive behavior, usually by some sort of persuasion or coercion -ultimately by death itself; and it accuses us of sin. That is simply what it does. We have no choice in the matter.”
The apparently innocuous annual new year’s resolution is actually a window into the reality of the human condition before God. We are bound to law in all it’s forms and it’s absolute demands. Under these circumstances, our failure to keep the demands of our resolutions (read, ‘repentance’) must lead us to either laugh or cry. The law offers no compassion. The law can never create what it demands. In this sense, the Christian life is a perpetual Lent.
If the law is always ahead of us with it’s endless demands, Christ Jesus is even further ahead with His cross and forgiveness. This is what the Bible means when it declares, “Christ is the end of the law.” We cannot bring and end to the law. Only Christ is the end of the law and only for faith.
If the endless failures of your life’s resolutions are getting to you, they are supposed to! You cannot outwit or outrun the demands of the law. But be of good cheer! Christ Jesus, at great cost, has taken upon Himself the law and its constant demand so that your accusing conscience may be put to rest.
In a world of constant demands we need to hear this good news again and again. This is so we will be removed from the endless, hopeless self-fulfillment project and be encouraged to trust in God’s grace. It is that trust that sets us free for an authentically joyful and fulfilled life.