When I sit down to make a meal there are 3 key food groups I look to include: meat, carbs and dairy. A meal that doesn’t include those key food groups isn’t really a meal at all - more of a light snack. For me, the perfect example of those 3 deliciously important food groups is the pepperoni pizza – a symphony of mouth-watering meat, cheese and carbohydrate - nothing beats a good pepperoni pizza.
So when my housemate told me that his New Year’s resolution was to go vegetarian every Tuesday for the rest of the year I had a lot of respect for him.
“It’s for the environment”, I was solemnly informed. Beef and pig farming produce an awful lot of greenhouse gases, so the theory goes that if we all ate less meat and had fewer meat farms we’d all cut down on our greenhouse gas emissions.
That is until one Tuesday in February when I came into the kitchen at dinnertime and found him tucking into a good bacon sandwich (a well-balanced meal which includes representatives from all 3 key food groups).
“What happened to vegetarian Tuesdays?” I asked. He proceeded to utter a series of profanities.
“I forgot...”, He confessed in rather embarrassed tones. “Anyway, what was your New Year’s Resolution?” He asked innocently.
“I erm... I never made one. I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions...”
“That’s ridiculous”, he said “why not?”
My reasoning? Look at Romans 12:1-2:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
In this verse, Paul instructs us to offer our bodies to God and let Him transform us.
When we make New Year’s resolutions we are making a statement of intent; we vow to change who we are and how we act in order to be transformed into something new. And what Paul captures in these verses from Romans is the essential Christian transformation: every day we are called to reflect on ourselves in light of Jesus’ example and God’s character and let the Holy Spirit do a work of transformation and growth in us. So I actually think that resolutions are great; but we should be making them every day of our lives not just once a year.
That’s what Paul means when he tells us to ‘be transformed by the renewing of our minds’. As we focus on Jesus and reflect on our actions and character in light of his example (through prayer, reading the Bible) we are transformed day by day. The Holy Spirit compels us to change and become more Christ-like.
So the way I see it, We should be committed to making mini ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ every day of our lives, we should constantly be striving to live as ‘living sacrifices’ – dedicated to God and growing into the men and women that we are to be. And that’s what I tried to tell my housemate. I said, “If there is something in my life that I feel needs to change, I try to make that change there and then. I don’t see the point in waiting for the New Year.”
If we wait for the New Year to make changes to our lives it implies a lack of transformation and growth throughout the rest of the year, it implies stubbornness to listen to the Spirit and to be transformed in Christ! In Galatians 2:20 Paul says ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’ Until we can confidently announce that our lives are perfect representations of Jesus we must continue on that journey of transformation – and that means, rather than waiting for the New Year, we should live with a daily intent to change and grow.