Beginning a New Year of Change and Transformation
Having just celebrated the entrance of God into the world at Christmas, can we return back to our normal routine of life and our typical schedule? If we have sincerely experienced Christ’s birth, and invited Him to be born anew in our hearts and lives, no one can enter the new year the same! We should be changed people! Or at least be people who are in the process of change! Encountering Jesus, and allowing Him to be born anew in our lives should transform our motives, our values, our attitudes, and our entire worldview! Truly meeting Christ means we can’t stay the same because we discover a new potential, our divine calling and destiny.
Remember St. Athanasios’ words that “God became man so that we could become divine.” Any life that is centered on self, on all that is temporal and superficial, on material things over spiritual things, concentrated on power and fame, and basically a life without eternal meaning should no longer be satisfying. In Bethlehem, and then in Nazareth and Galilee, and eventually in Jerusalem and Golgatha, we discover a new and better way to live, a new path to walk, a life with eternal meaning and significance, a life of sacrificial and divine love.
As we end the year 2019, and prepare to enter 2020, we should turn our attention to CHANGE, to TRANSFORMATION, to NEW LIFE. Here lies a vision that can guide and direct us throughout the New Year. Many people, at this time of year, think of New Year Resolutions to better our lives – whether a resolution for weight loss, or for better responsibility with one’s money in paying off debts, or for exercising more, or reading more, or spending more time with our loved ones, or whatever else it may be, the purpose of resolutions basically is to improve one’s life.
And yet, maybe our New Year Resolutions seek to change too little; maybe our vision is too small! If we truly want to better our lives, then we have to discover what the main purpose in our life is. Why were we created? What is our purpose during this brief sojourn on earth? What does God expect from us? Wouldn’t our Creator know what’s best for us? And if so, are we seeking to discover the abundant life that God promises for each one of us?!?
Let’s not settle for small time Resolutions!
Whenever someone begins a journey, he or she needs to know what their destination is. With no clear destination, we can go and go but never get anywhere! Even worse, we can go and end up in places we had no intention to visit.
Our central destination as followers of Jesus Christ in 2020 should be nothing less than developing a more intimate, authentic, life-changing relationship with God. And through this dynamic relationship with our Lord, we will discover beautiful relationships with others, with our neighbors as well as with our enemies, with those closest to us along with the less fortunate.
Remember, we are not pursuing worldly success, which is often equated with money, pleasure, and entertainment. Instead, our pursuit is for godly success, which implies faithfulness to God’s commandments, especially His first and greatest commandments to love God and to love our neighbor.
If we make this our central New Year Resolutions, then 2020 will be an exciting year of change, of transformation! Yet, HOW we can reach this goal? I’ll offer are four suggestions.
First, strive to connect with God on a daily basis. Connecting with God implies setting aside time each day to talk with Him and to listen to Him - through the discipline of prayer, of reading Holy Scriptures, and of simply dwelling in His presence.
Second, try to apply in our lives what God commands. This is not what we always want to do. It’s not always convenient. Many times, in fact, God calls us to follow the difficult path of loving and serving and forgiving those who are difficult to love and serve and forgive. Yet, we don’t follow this path because it’s easy, or because we always want to. We follow this path because we know it is the path of life.
Third, learn to share our faith with others, becoming good witnesses of God to the world around us. Our faith is never a private affair, but something we offer to the world around us. Jesus calls us the light of the world. He commands us to be the salt that flavors the society we live in. Never consider your faith a private affair, but learn to share what you believe and who you with your words as well as with your actions.
Finally, journey together, in fellowship with one another. There is no such thing as an individual Christian. We are the Church, the Body of Christ, a community of believers walking together on the same path with the same destination. Let us choose to make this journey with one another. In fact, an important part of this journey together is not only the help we will offer one another, but the accountability we will hold one another up to.
If you want to be serious about this commitment to develop a more intimate, authentic, life-changing relationship with God, then we need to find someone in our Church family who will hold up accountable to the goals we set, to the plans we make. Come to the priest and talk about your spiritual goals. Share your goals with someone else in this church family, meeting with them regularly and asking them to hold you accountable. By sharing your goals with another, and then meeting with them regularly, you will discover God’s Spirit working within you, and you will begin to see transformation occur in your life!
These are a few disciplines that can help us experience a new and better way to live, a new path to walk, a new life with eternal meaning and significance.
- Connect and communicate with God each day, both speaking and listening to Him
- Apply in your life what God teaches you each day, no matter how inconvenient or hard it may appear
- Don’t keep your faith to yourself, but share it with others
- Walk this path together with someone else within our Church Family, finding support and accountability to your spiritual goals.
I wish you all a most blessed and fruitful New Year, filled with our Lord’s abundant love and peace.
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