Saturday, January 01, 2005

Beyond Resolution

Happy New Year! If this event has any significance beyond a purely calendar one (when I created this blog, Blogger randomly - that is, inaccurately - allocated a star-sign and Chinese astrological birth year to my Profile; once upon a time, these deterministic approaches to life were allocated to us by birth date; now, apparently, by a computer programme...) then it is as an opportunity to take a look at ourselves and decide to make some changes.

Jesus called this an opportunity to "repent and believe the good news" of God's transforming kingdom, liberating us from the oppression of determinism (nature v nurture debate; horoscopes; politics; forces of nature; etc.).

To repent means to change one's mind (sadly, the term has been hi-jacked by those who have over-emphasised one aspect of its meaning - to acknowledge where we have been in the wrong - and ignored the wider sense, which includes recognition that it is time to move on from one positive or neutral activity to another - as in, there is a time and a place for a wide range of actions, and a skill to recognising a change in the season); to believe means to change one's direction, one's actions, as an active outworking of repentance - a dynamic activity that acknowledges both other people's support and God's empowering.

Both repentance and belief are, at least in part, communal activities: we need the insight of others to see how we should move forward in any given set of circumstances, and - crucially - to encourage us in, and hold us accountable to, acting on the decision we have arrived at. Which is why New Year's Resolutions - generally highly individualistic in both the identifying and the attempting - so often fail to see out January...

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