It's the time of the year where everyone is counting the calories to trim their wastelines (usually out of guilt for all the Christmas cookies consummed). This guilt is often displayed in what is called the New Year resolution. I don't have statistics to prove this, but I would bet that 90% of all New Year's resolutions have to do with diet and excercise. Given that we Americans are the fattest people on the planet, that might not be a bad thing.
Something we hear very little about are those who resolve not just to be better eaters, but better people. Please understand that I am writing this mostly for myself. I am giving you, my reader, a chance to listen in on Aaron's conversation with Aaron. I promise you will not be arrested for eavesdropping if you keep reading.
Here goes: Aaron, when was the last time that you resolved to become a better person? Well, to be honest, I can't remember? But don't you pray for guidance and wisdom on a daily basis? Well, almost daily. I miss a few every now and then. Do you pray for God to make you a more loving person? Yes, as a matter of fact I do. Do you pray the prayers written in the epistles? Yes, I pray those for myself and for others ocassionally. Then, in essence, becoming a better person is a consistent focus or prayer for you. I guess I never thought of it that way before. Thanks Aaron for your help. No problem. Oops, I almost forgot. The question I now have is this: How do I become a better person?
It is at this question that many sincere resolutions find the most frustration. How does one become a better person. For some, the question is never even asked. The idea is "I know that Jesus died for my sins, so why do I need to become a better person? Since I'm already going to heaven, what's in it for me?" I would like to believe that few Christians hold to this idea so I will not deal with it here. The question still becomes: How do I become a better person? I have a simple answer: To become a better person one must obtain better beliefs. For it is out of the heart that flows the issues of life.
Here is a question that all of us need to ask ourselves from time to time: If I believe such and such about God, the earth, my fellow man, those that are different from me, then what kind of a person does that make me? Is it good for myself. Is it good for my family. Is it good for society?
These are tough questions to be asked, but they still should be asked. History is filled with examples of ideas misapplied leading to extraordinary human suffering. Some of the tragedies even come from "Christians" who had incorrect theologies that led them to do terrible things. In the 1800's there were sincere Christians living in America that believed that slavery was a God-ordained institution. Anybody want to guess what book they turned to to justify their beliefs? We know now that they were wrong largely because the Christians on the other side of the debate, the Methodists and the Quakers, won the debate in their day-and the world is a better place because of it. I would argue that the Methodists and the Quakers had a better understanding of the social issues of their day precisely because the basic theological concepts that produced Methodism and Quakerism lended themselves to producing better people. (If you would like to know what the theological concepts were, and still are, you will have to study early Methodism and Quakerism to find out. If you are one of my loyal readers,you may be able to figure some of this out right now if you think about the posts I have been writing over the past two months)
It doesn't hurt to begin the New Year asking yourself this question: What kind of a person does my theology make me?