Off and Running . . . but Where?

New year, new goals, new election season (wait–really, again, already?), new outlooks, new possibilities, etc., etc. What is it about our eagerness to turn pages, mark change points, and just plain start over? We do it every year, often citing the same changes that were thought to be necessary the year before. We do it with things like our weight, our less desirable habits, our financial planning, our spiritual disciplines, our relationships with particular persons, and a host of other things that would seem to offer a more successful life if only we could actually make the changes and make them last for more than a few weeks. For the record, one of my goals is to be more faithful in filling up this blog with daily posts. You may immediately note that I’m already a day late.

The taking of a personal inventory isn’t a bad exercise; we should all do it occasionally, though I have met few people who actually find success in having it tied to taking down the expired calendar and putting up the next one. I suspect there is both a positive and a negative side to the readiness to being anew. On one hand, it witnesses to the hope that things can, indeed, be better than they are and that we have both the ability and the responsibility to make it happen. That gives us purpose and significance, without which meaningful participation in life is unlikely to be found. On the other hand, it witnesses to our repeated failure to live up to the expectations we have of ourselves. In fact, maybe it is in the making of resolutions that we tacitly admit that it’s not just the expectations and demands of others that we fail to live up to, much as we try to blame failure on “them.” The fact is there is an internally functioning voice that we recognize all too well; and we know that it is right in calling us to task.

Be that as it may, what I want to focus on is the hope that drives us and sets us off in new directions, or in old directions with new energy. Or maybe on new routes to the same destination. It has been growing increasingly clear to me that what we hope for is not that God will do something to change things independently of human efforts, either our own or those of someone else. We have done that for far too long, I think–sit around under the idea that only God can change things, and that He will do it in such a way that no one on earth has a hand in it whatsoever. Meanwhile, we go about our lives and interests which have little to do with kingdom purposes.

My “resolution” (had to use it) is to more fully understand that God does in fact work in the world, but that His Holy Spirit (fully God!) dwells in his people, primarily in the body of Christ. If He does, then supposedly human actions of Spirit-filled people are not really that at all; they are God’s way of working. So join me, won’t you, in getting on board with what God IS DOING about the mess of a world we see around us.

And, by the way, you could all make it a resolution to respond to blog postings; it helps to create new posts when I know what you are thinking.

11 thoughts on “Off and Running . . . but Where?

  1. You said, “supposedly human actions of Spirit-filled people are not really that at all; they are God’s way of working.”

    Wow. Selah.

    May we, as Spirit-filled people in this new calendar year, have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” God’s promptings, God-given empowerment to obey, and those same eyes and ears to recognize the innumerable ways that God is at work both within and among us, for the sake of the Kingdom.

    No “resolution” to respond . . . but keep the posts coming, and I’ll try to keep responding!

  2. Thank you, Ken for a different perspective on “The Resolution”. Personally, I usually avoid resolutions. I think they are our world’s way of saying “there is something wrong so if I change one thing about myself, I have done something to improve this world.” I will definitely join you in seeing what God is doing by using His frail, sinful, yet Spirit-filled people to bring glory to His Name! I know He is moving in our messy corner of the world!

  3. Great blog!! Resolutions help me to stay on the path that God is leading me both as a pastor and a Christian. Humans often negate their importance in God’s plan and sit passively on the sideiines. He gave us a mind, body and heart to be used to bring His Will to fruition.
    Happy, Happy New Year to all!!

  4. I am thinking about Richard Niebuhr’s comments in “The Meaning of Revelation” that our “spiritual desires” come after our commitments to other things, and our prayers reinforce those commitments (to State, community, economic system, race, strata, whatever). We assume that Kingdom==commitment. Can we borrow from Stoicism the concept of adiaphora – indifferent things. Representative democracy, capitalism, congregationalism, 1st through 10th amendments, PickYourFavorite,
    are all simply indifferent things, they are neither good or bad.

    The Good, (or the Highest Good) is something else, something immanent (keeping with the stoics) or something transcedental (leaning towards the Platonics).

      • My jaundice eschatology and my observation that neither a prophet’s prayer nor the law itself could save Saul’s Kingdom (or anyone else’s) would lead me to believe that the answer is no.

        Someday the Kingdom of God will be merged with the Kingdom of man, but it will take the fall of the latter for that to happen.

  5. Your central point, that human action by spirit-filled people is how God works, is right on the money and in harmony with the writings of good folks such as Henry Blackaby (“Experiencing God”) and David Platt (“Radical”). The challenge is to stay focused on where God is working, and to get on board, as you say, with what HE is doing.

    We are to love and serve others, and I believe this is how we love and serve Him.

  6. Christ modeled the church after the family not after semitic or greek forms of worship, someday I’d love to explore through whatever means the proto-church (the family) as the basis of worship and prophetic living.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you as individuals of the enlightenment we (I) are/is easily deceived. Maybe a codicle to Congar’s “The Meaning of Tradition” is what I am looking for.

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