So This is the New Year…

…And I don’t feel any different. But I should. It’s just another day, yes, but it’s also the perfect day to remind us that we can change, that things can change. That transformation is possible.

I have some new year’s resolutions. I’d like to develop a better taste for classical music and listen to less throwaway indie-band-of-the-week music. I’d like to write the remaining 12 chapters in my book and deliver the manuscript on time to the publisher in August. I’d like to befriend the owner of a local dry cleaner’s. I’d like to go to Disneyland more often and make friends with the kandi kids who all apparently hate me because of this notorious post.

But all of this is really incidental to my real, overarching resolution: to live more of a Romans 12 life.

My father recently convinced his local church in Lenexa, Kansas (several thousand members) to commit to memorizing Romans 12 over the course of 2009. Which I think is a great idea; I’m going to do it too.

Romans 12, I think, is one of the most important and concise summations of what exactly it means to live a Christ-like life. It’s full of important, enlivening, devastatingly counter intuitive challenges.

It calls us to be living sacrifices, to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, to bless those who persecute us, to live peaceably with all. It reminds us to not be haughty, but to associate with the lowly, and to never look at ourselves as wise or better than anyone else. It commands us to abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good, to actively try to outdo one another in showing honor. It’s all about aspiring to the highest standard of righteousness.

And I haven’t even mentioned the best part of the chapter, verse 2, where Paul writes the following: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Do not be conformed to this world. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Wow, there are no two sentences that better articulate what I hope I can be in 2009.

Honestly, I’m sick of conforming to the world. There’s only so much that it can offer. I’d much rather see my mind renewed and my self transformed as a result. I have a feeling that “the world” becomes infinitely more interesting and beautiful when seen through the eyes of a renewed mind. I’ve seen this in my life at many points, especially during the times when I’m focused on God, thinking clearly about what Jesus said, and desperately seeking the truths of his kingdom. When these things are going on, everything else comes into focus too. The air seems clearer, the ocean vaster. Radiohead sounds more sacred. Food tastes better. Love seems easier and more intuitive.

C.S. Lewis once said that he believed in Christianity like he believed that the sun had risen: not because he could see it, but because by it he could see everything else.

And I think that’s what I’m saying here. I think that there are infinite resolutions we all have, limitless hopes and dreams for the future. But it all falls apart or never comes together in the first place if we don’t prioritize that which binds and envelopes everything, that commitment to living sacrificially and self-effacingly, of loving good and hating evil, of being transformed by God rather than conformed to the world.

It’s living in light of the Gospel—the rising sun that makes everything visible—and taking it seriously as the central conviction of one’s life.

That’s my prayer for 2009.

7 responses to “So This is the New Year…

  1. Brett,
    I wish you lived on my street, went to my church, and drank beer, because we would have to be friends. (or at least, I would want to be your friend, you may think I am boring or weird or something, but I’m not! just give me a chance, man! seriously, what is with you, dude? we live on the same street, for crying out loud! geez…)

    The Search (Capital “T”, Capital “S”) has been a long passion of mine, I didn’t know what to call it initially, I think I went with “the longing” for a while, but after reading moviegoer, I have always called it The Search.

    I am glad to have found your blog, it is difficult to find like-mined Christians who are OK with recognizing the fact that there is still something we cannot explain that tugs our hearts.

    It is also difficult to find someone who is willing to look around at all of creation, and all art to see signs of The Search, without reducing everything to lame sermon illustrations, or object lessons.

    Salinger calls a person like this, a Poet. Someone who can see the current of art running through all of life.

    It is rare to find in anyone, and sadly even more rare in believers.(I’m not sure why)

    I think you’re a a Salinger Poet. I hope I am one too, but I might just be like his Buddy Glass or maybe Salieri from the movie “Amadeus”; I can see a Poet, but am not one myself. Only time will tell, right?

    OK, wrapping up.

    Good Blog, Good Luck with 09, and I hope to see some more awesome stuff coming from you this year.

  2. One of my favorite Death Cab For Cutie songs.

    Good thoughts to begin the year. It seems every year I’m making a resolution that is along the lines of spending more and better time with God and/or living more according to His desires for my life. And every year it seems like I fail on one level or another. And yet I am not discouraged. The true failure would be to give up on making the annual effort. I hope 2009 will prove a better year for my resoluation keeping.

  3. More classical music….certainly can’t hurt!

  4. I just stumbled on your blog today..and what a great way to start the new year! I was reading some relevant articles of yours which were such a blessing! I think I might join you on memorizing Romans uber pumped!.. this year should be a good one.

  5. Brett, thanks for stopping by my blog. I’ve been lurking on yours for a couple of months. I’m trying to figure out how to bring relevance to the high school group that I teach at my church. I’ve loved reading what you have to say.

    The social media circle has led me to spending more time in Romans 12 now. I agree with you on the “central conviction.” I have the same prayer.


  6. Dude, you have a way with words. I’m glad I discovered your blog a year or so ago…always a joy to read. Keep it up.

  7. Pingback: Non-binding Resolution « Life of Ando

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