Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) What a great passage as we anticipate a new year! Another is one of the most tender words spoken by Jesus:
Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! (Luke 12:22-24)
A teenager sent his girlfriend her first orchid with this note: “With all my love and most of my allowance.” This is Jesus’ word to us, “With all my love and with all my resources.” Knowing this, we Christians can make two bold assertions at the dawn of the new year. First, Christ knows me and loves me just as I am. But that isn’t all, nor is it enough. The second assertion is that Christ nurtures me; he changes me.
To stop with the first assertion – that Christ knows me and loves me just as I am – is to enter a static state that will become stale, boring, uncreative, unattractive. That isn’t the goal of Jesus for our lives. In To Pray and to Grow, Flora Wuellner affirms:
This living Jesus Christ not only sees me as I am, in loving forgiveness, but he also releases me from that which makes me unfree. He changes me. In him, we are not only reborn – we grow!
It is not enough to be made clean through Good Friday. We are to grow in power through Pentecost!
It was not enough for the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable to leave the pigs. The pigs have not yet left him! Safe now in his father’s house, he still has bad habits to master and new attitudes to cultivate.
The disciples sitting expectantly in the upper room after Jesus had gone from their sight to the Father, knew they did not yet have what it took to change the world. They knew Jesus loved them, but they needed to grow in his power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out the demonic, and reconcile the hostile.
“Beloved,” it was written many years later to the churches, “we are God’s children now [security and acceptance]; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him [expectancy and growth].” (1 John 3:2)
I like what Agnes Sanford said so gloriously. We Christians are to “sit down on the bottom rung of the ladder of sanctity and yell for Jesus Christ.”
He will come. He will come to nurture and change us.
2014 will begin in just a few days time. As we close one year and begin the next, many of us will be in a mood to reflect, remember and reevaluate. In the midst of this season of resolutions it’s important to recall Jesus’ comparison: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10: 10)