I posted the following suggestions on Facebook in December. We’re already approaching the end of the first quarter, so it’s appropriate to evaluate whether I am practicing what I preach.
Last night, during the evening service, my pastor preached on the sin of sloth. It was a helpful reminder of suggestion number 3. It’s a constant battle, and I will admit that the Michigan State loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament has boosted my productivity.
How are you doing with your own resolutions?
Living an authentic Christian life requires constant prayer, study, discernment, and reflection. I have spent some time thinking about the challenges and temptations of our current age and offer these five suggestions for Christian living in 2016.
1. Fight all badges and incidents of nationalism and partisanship. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . .” Phil. 3:20 (NIV). Be vigilant, attentive, and discerning in this election season, avoiding Trumpism, socialist nationalism, and crass populism. Flee from any partisanship that would sow division within the church. Your common identity in Christ is more important than your party affiliation.
2. Give generously: Time, Talent, and Treasure. God equips everyone, yes everyone, to advance his purposes. As a result of our sinful nature, we all underestimate our capacity for giving. Store up treasures in heaven and follow the greatest commandment to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
3. Use leisure time well. Dr. R.J. Snell recently wrote an excellent book entitled, Acedia and its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire. Snell argues that our culture is plagued by boredom. We view the world and all that is within it as objects of consumption. The ontology of the ancients and the pre-modern Christian world has dissipated along with our capacity for wonder and amazement. The result is that we are plagued by boredom and restlessness. The antidote for this poison is that we turn our hearts towards God and love his creation as he loves it. Work and rest in ways that honor God’s purposes for his creation.
4. Love your enemies and do not overreact to terrorist acts. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5: 44-45 (NIV). “We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love.” The Heidelberg Catechism, Answer 28. Don’t cling to this earth in fear, our future is secure.
5. Avoid making your earthly family into an idol. We all love our families, but we cannot worship them. Too often, our families become a useful excuse for avoiding the work of the church. Spending time with family is a good, but it is not the ultimate good. Even non-Christians sacrifice for their family or tribe. Christ calls us to more. “[Jesus] replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’” Luke 8:21 (NIV).