\”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Don\’t be misled by the many strange teachings out there. It\’s a good thing for the heart to be strengthened by grace rather than by food. Food doesn\’t help those who live in this context.\”
Hebrews 13:8, 9 (Common English Bible)
God’s aim for all people is that our hearts be strengthen. Not hardened, unyielding, unwilling to settle differences. This past year has produced many such hearts; hearts that are embittered by unkind political rhetoric, economic uncertainty, and fear of a virus that seems unstoppable. That is a heart that is incapable of civil, respectful discussion – only monologues, bouncing off others as though they were a hard surface. And often times they are! Hard surfaces that lack the humility to listen deeply to others, which lacks the capacity or willingness to harness disagreement for the advancement of personal thought. What God desires are hearts that are strengthen in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Hearts strengthened by God’s grace, strengthen by a daily decision to learn of Jesus Christ and allow that instruction to direct the course of our thoughts and behavior results in a milder, more temperate, more compassionate nature! As someone once wrote, in Jesus Christ we have, “Before each of us an image of what we ought to be.”[i]In a very practical course, what this means is that the image of Jesus Christ should become a living reality within each person. That is not a person who clings to rules or some interpretation of moral conduct that is foisted upon another. It is a person that recognizes that fallibility marks each one of us and moves toward another with compassion and acceptance.
Often resolutions are made at the beginning of a New Year. Many times they are broken – and broken early – and some are kept, even if feebly. Yet, according to our lesson this morning from Hebrews, there is one desire that God has for everyone. That is the desire that we are not led in the wrong direction this New Year by any other voice or authority than what is found in the Bible, “Don’t be misled by the many strange teachings out there.” A heart that is centered, and continually strengthened, in Jesus Christ is God’s aim, God’s hope for each of us. After all, any other desire or hope we may have will end in disillusionment if not deeply rooted in a relationship with our creator.
God’s hope for us does not depend upon our own strength of resolve, our ability to exercise absolute discipline in the course of our daily lives. We are not strong enough. This is precisely why so many resolutions in the New Year fail. Our intention is sincere and strong. Our discipline stumbles. What God promises is an uncommon strength that comes from God that helps us make Jesus Christ the pillar of our thoughts and actions. Only one thing is needed – that we say to Jesus Christ today, and each day this year, “Here I am, do with me according to your will!” God’s promise is that our heart will be strengthened. It is then that our lives will exhibit God’s commandment – the commandment of love.