With my first post of 2008, I laid out my New Year’s resolution: to do only those things that were compelled by the love of Christ. With 2 Corinthians 5 as my motivation, my goal for the year was to immerse myself in Christ’s love and the ministry of reconciliation. To let Christ’s love have the first, last, and only word in my life.
I wrote about this resolution a couple of times here, but I pretty quickly decided against this. Some of my friends understood this lack of blogging about the resolution to mean that I’d given up on it. That’s not it at all. It’s just that some of the things I wrote seemed like boasting, and 1 Cor. 13 says love doesn’t boast. So I decided to maintain a private blog where I could keep a record of this year long journey.
By and large, I have to admit that I failed miserably with this resolution. If anything, this resolution made me more aware of all the ways in which I don’t act in love or speak in love. On my private blog, I labeled each post with labels like “Prayer” or “Scripture”, things like that. As I look back over the year, I realize I wrote about “Disappointment” more than any topic but one. All in all, as far as my resolution is concerned, I’d have to say that 2008 was a disappointment.
The area of greatest disappointment for me has been in my relationships with some of my friends. In fact, “Friends” is the topic that I wrote about more than any other this year. The irony here is that, in a year when I’ve supposedly committed myself to the principles of reconciliation, I feel even more estranged from some friends than ever before. I’m still committed to the principle of being compelled by Christ’s love, because I truly believe it’s the only way to go forward. But I’ve learned that reconciliation can be a knotty, difficult task. And I’ve learned that I have a long way to go to be an effective minister of reconciliation.
And yet, there were plenty of positive moments sprinkled throughout, not as many as I’d like, but enough to give me hope for change going forward. 2008 has been a year in which several of my friendships have grown deeper and I directly attribute this to the love of Christ at work in those relationships. I am so blessed to work alongside my fellow ministers at Mayfair who model the love of Christ in incredibly consistent ways. I serve a group of shepherds whose thoughts and prayers are dripping with Christ’s love. I’ve realized that the greatest, most consistent conduit for the love of Christ in my life is my precious wife and my three children. There were life-changing revelations of the Word. 1 John 4:18 (“There is no fear in love“) has become a mantra of mine. Passages like Deuteronomy 6, Matthew 22, and 1 Corinthians 13 all have an even more special place in my heart after this year. And even though this year has been disappointing on several fronts, its those moments of transformation, slight as they might be, that will sustain me and give me hope for the year to come.
And so, I’ll end 2008 the same way I began it: with Paul’s prayer from Ephesians
on my lips. This is my prayer for each of you, my dear friends. May 2009 find you living full lives, full in the fullness of God.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.