I’ve been thinking about what I should resolve for the New Year. Let’s see…
I could probably lose a bit of weight. However, I’ve lost 10kg in the last year, and I’m still eating healthier food and working out several times a week. Let’s call that one retrospective. I don’t think I had it on my list for 2008, but there we go.
I could resolve to use apostrophes more carefully, especially when they relate to the term ‘New Year’s.’ But I think my apostrophe use is pretty good. I’m sure alert readers will have picked up one or two mistake’s, but they’re not intentional.
There is one thing I want to do, however: I want to be more graceful. I’m not talking about learning ballet or being more lady-like when I’m on the bench press. I resolve to be far less legalistic in 2009.
Jesus went to pains to recast the Law in the Sermon on the Mount. Christians are not beholden to a list of laws, except for two: Love God, and love your neighbour. He goes to great lengths in the Sermon on the Mount to make sure we understand this. Murder someone is just as bad as hating them, says Jesus. Ogling women to whom you’re not married is just as bad as jumping in the sack with them.
At the heart of this is grace. God is genuinely interested in our interests. He doesn’t make rules just so we can fail. And I think that’s why Jesus made it so simple. There will be times when things don’t seem so clear, but the important thing is to do the right thing by God and your neighbour. His grace can sort the rest out.
Now I realise that this can seem an awful lot like lawlessness. Well, in some ways it is. But it doesn’t mean that just anything goes.
For example, adultery is still wrong, because you’re breaking a covenant that you made with your spouse. That’s not loving your neighbour.
Murder is wrong. It’s not loving. Yet that’s what makes euthanasia such a difficult thing—it might be murder, but done with the best intentions.
Putting your job or house or family before God isn’t loving him the way he demands.
What about things like homosexuality? Well, on the face of it it doesn’t appear to break either of Jesus’ uber-commands. Well, it can, but you have to go via ‘God commanded it, therefore it’s a sin against God if you live that lifestyle.’ In other words, we replace ‘Love God’ with a whole list of laws, rendering Jesus’ words moot.
So here’s the deal. In 2009 I’m not going to tut-tut anyone who does something I disagree with unless it is an act of un-love. That includes gossip, slander, deceit, malice, and so on.
You know, maybe that’s what Jesus meant—also in the Sermon on the Mount—when he told us not to judge others. That’s the heart of grace. It’s all about letting the God who knows what’s in a person’s heart do the judging. All we should offer is love.