Beginning the year with the most powerful essay I've ever read

by Jim Denison, Christian Post Columnist |
Jim Denison

"Happy New Year!"

These words, or their equivalents, were first heard in ancient Babylon four thousand years ago. Today, New Year's Day is the most universal of all holidays, transcending religions and cultures everywhere.

And making resolutions is as old as the holiday itself. The Babylonians invented this custom as well. Their most popular New Year's resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

In the US, exercising more and losing weight is a top resolution, along with saving money. Traveling, making new friends, finding a new job or hobby, and finding love also made the list.

According to experts, we should make our goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. And we should remember that three steps forward and one step back is still two steps forward.

What is your "ruling passion"?

William Barclay once wrote, "A man will never become outstandingly good at anything unless that thing is his ruling passion. There must be something of which he can say, 'For me to live is this.'"

Paul was passionately committed to God's "ruling passion" for his life: "that I may know him" (Philippians 3:10). I am convinced that this is the greatest resolution any of us can make in this new year.

Knowing Jesus intimately is the most transforming, empowering, joyful way of life humans can experience. It is the purpose for which we were made. Nothing else can take its place.

So, how can we know Jesus more intimately this year?

The most powerful essay I've ever read

I'd like to begin 2019 in an unusual way by summarizing the most powerful single essay I have ever read. It is by C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, and it deals with the very heart of the Christian life.

According to Lewis, before we become Christians, we each take as our starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. When we become followers of Christ, we know that we will need to give up some of these desires and interests and add others in their place. We will have to go to church, read our Bibles, pray, give, serve, and so on.

But we are hoping that when all the demands of our religion have been met, we will still have the chance to get on with our own lives and do as we like. We are like an honest man who pays his taxes but hopes there will be money left over for him to spend as he wishes.

However, this is not the way of Christ at all.

A thornbush cannot produce figs.

To quote Lewis: "Christ says, 'Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; my own will shall become yours.'"

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