Happy New Year!
I don’t do resolutions. I’ve observed two things—that humans have an indefatigable drive to fix themselves, and that it is utterly futile and fruitless. The only good that comes from our self-fixing is that some of us finally learn it’s impossible.
Observe every world religion other than the faith of Jesus. Each proposes a method whereby lost souls may ascend to God. Whether the Zen Buddhist with his endless meditations or the Muslim with her daily prayers, there is an intended incline from earth to heaven, fueled by human effort; there are endless resolutions to do better, to aim higher, to improve, to achieve, to arrive.
In sharp contrast is the faith of Jesus. The most essential path of this religion isn’t the ascending path of the God-follower, but the descending path of God. It stretches from heaven to hell, only ascending after its original descent. Jesus, equal with God, became a servant, a man, an outlaw, and finally sin itself in our behalf (Philippians 2). Then God “made us alive together with Christ” and “raised us up with Him,” Ephesians 2:5 and 6.
Consider evolution versus biblical creation. Evolution features the same ascendency, in this case from ape to human. Creation features a divine interruption in which God “spake and it was.” God came down to earth to form the man out of dust, and the woman out of the man. We didn’t achieve God-likeness as a result of millennia of self-development; we were made in God’s image by His own tender touch.
God is still touching people with something called grace. It comes to us via the same heaven-to-hell path that was carved out by the Incarnate God many years ago. It’s a divine interruption, a supernatural interposition, and the only means of truly elevating us out of our stinking, boring, hellish existence.
Maybe you’re at a point in life where you realize that your attempts at self-improvement have yielded little. Realize one more thing then—that it’s not over. There’s this amazing thing called grace, and it saturates the atmosphere. The great thing about failure is that your deep sobs create more room for the exhilarating air of grace. Take it in. It’s what’s been missing all along.