‘The Endless Round of Resolutions’
By Pastor Mark Anderson
Lutheran Church of the Master, Corona del Mar, CA
With the new year comes the time for resolutions. As we look back over the year that was, most of us can identify aspects of our lives that could use some improvement or adjustment, at the very least. What strikes me about this annual exercise is that it never ends. 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. 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,
“For 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. 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 of
sin. That is simply what it does. We have no choice in
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.
So, you see, 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. And all of them are summed up in the greatest of all commandments;
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”
How about that for a New Year’s resolution!
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 for faith.
If the endless failures of your life’s resolutions are getting to you, they are supposed to!… in order that you might see your need for Jesus, who brings an end to the law, it’s demands and accusations.
So, as 2012 begins, make all the resolutions you want! (Personally, I’m going for weight loss.) Just remember that your life is already fulfilled in Jesus.
Without Him we have nothing. With Him we have it all!
Grace to you,