Happy New Year, everyone! I pray that 2011 will be a blessed year for each of you. I also wish you well if you are the kind of person who makes New Year's resolutions. I am the kind of person who resolves not to make any resolutions. I am also the kind of person who gives up liver and lima beans (both of which I despise!) for Lent. It's just not my thing.
But I don't really want to make any resolutions this year. Instead, I intend to make 2011 a year of REVOLUTION for Jesus in my life! "What is the difference?" I hear you cry. Let me give you a couple of examples:
Resolution: I will read the words of Jesus in my Bible every day.
Revolution: I will live the words of Jesus in life every day.
Resolution: I will forgive Larry for not returning my chain saw.
Revolution: I will forgive everyone 70 x 7 times, no matter how badly their sin offends me; I will love my enemies; I will offer God's grace and love to everyone I meet.
As you can tell, a revolution requires a lot more of us that a resolution. It's been over 40 years since The Beatles sang about people wanting a revolution. The problem was then, and always has been, that no one really wants to commit to changing the world. You want to know what a Jesus Revolution looks like? Listen to these words from Rick Warren: "You don't get to chose who you'll love, forgive & show respect to if you claim to follow Jesus. It must be everybody." That's totally radical! Jesus gave us a manifesto for revolution with every word He spoke in the New Testament. We know those words. The problem is they all came with commands for commitment like "take up your cross" or "sell all you have and give it to the poor" or "to find your life you have to lose it." The band My Chemical Romance has a song out called Na Na Na that includes the lyrics, "everybody wants to change the world but no wants to die..." They are not talking about living life for Jesus, but they speak the truth. No one wants to fully commit. No one wants to really be a Jesus Freak. No one wants to give up their comfortable life and really be part of a Jesus revolution!
So enough talking. Let's get this party started! And no quitting just because you fall down once or twice. That's what happens with resolutions. This is a revolution of grace- every day is New Year's Day!!! Here are 3 revolutionary acts I am committed to doing in 2011. You must find your own.
- I live on a circle of very nice people who have accepted my family into their community these past 4 years. It is a very ecumenical neighborhood, with a Hindu family, a Jehovah's Witness family and a Jewish family. I have no idea if they know I am a former pastor or if they even know I am a Christ-follower. This year, through my words and deeds, they will know. They will all be invited to church with us. The will all be the "victims" of random acts of kindness and grace. My neighbors will know that I know Jesus. "You say you want a revolution..."
- Revolution requires risk. This year I will speak out when people use Christianity as a basis for bigotry and hatred. I will speak out when people use Jesus to promote political views. I will speak out when people claim there is no God. I may well lose friends and make enemies, but I will love them anyway. I will do my best to live out The Beatitudes found in Matthew 5. Revolution must be personal before it can be corporate. "We all want to change the world..."
- I am going to find new ways to give. I will give more of myself to the guys in my Wednesday morning class- they all have so little spiritual background or guidance. I am going to give more spiritual leadership to my family. I am going to take the $10 or so I spend on lunch one day a week and give it to Compassion International. These are not gigantic steps, but together they are quite revolutionary.
Because of Jesus,