New Year, Old Person

By Not Known

A quick search shows more than 12 different start dates for the new year among different groups of people. Think of that – 12 plus annual chances for a fresh start with new resolutions, new hopes and new plans.

However, it’s not that easy. We may spruce up our homes, buy new clothes, start a new diary but one thing remains the same. That’s us. And there’s the problem. It’s the same old person under the new clothes.

My recent reading includes a book called The Consolations of Philosophy. It’s a well-written book that harvests the thoughts of some ancient and modern western philosophers as they offer wisdom on various life issues. There’s much that makes sense in this advice. It also fits well with the tao that we find in eastern thought and with the wisdom literature of Biblical books like Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.

However, all this wisdom literature has the same problem of our new year clothes. It lacks power to effect change within and to enable people to do the things that the way of wisdom commends.

The apostle Paul ran up against this problem. In Colossae there were people who sought to harness ancient and modern wisdom to produce rules that would enable people to be lifted up to a higher plane. But the rules were impotent, for they could give the direction of change but not the power for change (Col 2:23).

The power for change lies in reconnecting to God through faith in Jesus. That produces so dramatic a change that it can be described as death and resurrection (Col 2:13; 3:1). There’s now scope for a new focus on things from the realm of God rather than grovelling in the lower and worst elements of fallen humanity (Col 3:1-2).

Paul uses the imagery of new clothes to explain what this change means. Christian believers can be told to take off a range of old behaviours because their old self has been discarded and we are being renewed in our creational likeness to God (Col 3:9,10). This results in the ‘new clothing’ of changed behaviours such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col 3:12). Not surprisingly, this also opens up whole new possibilities for relationships across the normal lines of human division (Col 3:11).

It really doesn’t matter when we celebrate the new year or how often. However, it really does matter that we become new people by connecting to God through faith in his Son Jesus.

David Burke