Creating Lasting Change

Kyle Bryant, Heights Campus Director

What are your new year’s resolutions? I confess that I didn’t give it much thought until Sunday night at 11:58 p.m. But as I watched replays of various countries’ celebrations on TV, it struck me how communal is the celebration of the new year, yet how personal are new year’s resolutions. We bring in the new year with family, friends, and loved ones, but when it comes to resolutions, every man is an island.

Personal resolutions aren’t bad. Many are good and beneficial. But the truth is that a majority of us will have abandoned these resolutions by sometime in mid-January. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of resolutions fail by the second week in February. The problem isn’t with the resolutions; the problem lies with the resolver. We are inherently sinful people, and the journey to “perfection” is long and arduous, with many side-steps, pitfalls, and restarts. We are going to fail at our resolutions in some way; and when resolutions fail, we are tempted to give up completely. Maybe we need a new approach. So, at the risk of offending some, I propose that we abolish New Year’s Resolutions and institute New Year’s Reformations.  

Resolutions are personal and private; reformation is public and corporate. Resolutions change activity; reformation changes vision. Resolutions are quick and decisive; reformation is slow and patient. Resolutions demand success now; reformation understands that lasting change takes a lifetime.

I am convinced that we need fewer personal resolutions and more corporate reformation.

Reformation is realistic about human nature and God’s grace to redeem all of creation. Often the corresponding result is that reformation provides a more holistic approach to long-term growth and change. Instead of producing change in individual people, reformation changes entire communities. While resolutions encourage us to quit bad habits or begin productive ones, reformation challenges us to conform our vision and lives to the true, good, and beautiful. Reformation encourages us, as communities, to orient our lives away from prevailing lies and toward eternal truth. When considered in this manner, reformation goes hand in hand with repentance and worship. The foundation for true reformation, therefore, is true worship.

The process of reformation also plays out in scripture. Ezra and Nehemiah, two of Israel’s great reformers, serve as an example. Ezra understood that Israel needed to reform its pagan ways. So he read the word of God to the people, confessed the nation’s sins, and exhorted the people to repent of their sins and turn their hearts back to God. The plan of reformation begins with rebuilding the Temple—the place of corporate worship. What we see is that true reformation begins with corporate worship. The same is true in our own lives: if we desire reformation in our communities, we must begin with worship in our communities.

This year, consider your own spheres of life and how you might begin reforming with the people around you. Ask the Lord to shape your vision for life and worship in accordance with his Word.  Sit down with your family (or even your church community!) to talk about ways you can reform together. Start with worship and let the reformation conversation go from there. For I am certain that when we worship God rightly (and together!), we will see true and lasting reformation in our families, churches, and schools.

Lastly, know that God is patient with us in our weaknesses. So be patient with yourself and those around you. One of the great benefits of reformation is that we are always reforming. We are running a marathon up a mountain—we don’t arrive at once. As you read God’s word, confess your sins, and seek reformation with those around you, understand that it is a lifelong process that only begins in 2018. Although it begins with fits and starts, it ends in glory. So Happy New Year, TCS Family, and Semper Reformanda!