Do we all want a new beginning? There are likely to be some that would say, “Not really.” In the American culture I have seen there are some that feel the problems people have are their own fault. So the homeless person should have managed their money better. The abused spouse should have left the relationship instead of believing the lies that the abuse is their fault, if they had (or had not) done _____ it wouldn’t have happened. The alcoholic should just stop drinking, the drug addict should quit doing drugs. If the person had never started this wouldn’t be a problem now.
While I know those statements are over simplified, they become a way to separate us from them. When we believe we do not need a new start we are not being honest with ourselves. Another way of putting it may be that when we do not want a new beginning we are under the impression that we have it all together. Trying harder is often ineffective in the grand scheme of things. Trying harder creates more anxiety about whatever we have failed at in the past. Change is difficult. What can we do when we just are who we are? Maybe there is even a hint of defeat in noting we might need a new beginning.
The new beginning in Christianity is often also seen with little changing effect. Many who have come down during an alter call find themselves right back where they started in a short amount of time. New Years Resolutions often fail too. One might even wonder what it would take to really change their lives long term. So the alcoholic joins a 12 step program and does well as long as they continue going through the steps, over and over again. Many who are, like me, struggling with their weight will check out and try the latest diet or join a gym or even both, only to find out that in a few weeks or months they have fallen off the proverbial wagon.
We recognize the problems life brings and so eventually we might get to the point where we ask, “What’s the point in even trying?” We have come full circle back to the place where we accept life for what it is, a journey that we struggle through until death.
So what difference does Christ make in a believer’s life? The root of all that I listed above it self-centered. I can’t fix me so I will quit trying and I may even divert some of the attention to others to keep me out of the spotlight. We need something more. We need a connection that goes deep into our very soul, a connection with life-force of all life, a connection with God. As Christians we believe that was revealed to us in Jesus Christ, not anything we can do on our own, it is something God has done for us in Christ. We cannot save ourselves! Jesus talked about life as a relationship. I believe Native American Spirituality speaks to that as well, recognizing the Great Spirit and the forces around are in harmony to bring all things together. Buddhism speaks of ridding ourselves of ourself to transcend into the spiritual world. Studying Jesus’ life and interactions that we can see through the four Gospel accounts speaks pretty clearly about life being about relationships. Even in the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples we read, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of was all around, it has drawn near. Then Jesus spoke of getting into heaven we must come as a child.
A new beginning is about seeking how we can relate to the old in new ways and asking for a new view on the components of the relationship. You have heard it said… (here is the letter of the law) but I say… (here is the direction the relationship seen properly will take you) Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) with that in mind. Then look at the areas in your life you might not have been as truthful to yourself about and dream about the proper relationship for you to have. That will be a New Beginning!!