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The new year is here, and you have a second chance! Whatever has gone wrong, you get a do-over.
Christianity is a religion of second chances. It starts in the Old Testament, where God sends prophets again and again to remind his people how to live. And over and over, the people reject the prophets. Still, God never gives up on his people. He continues to invite people to a more loving way of living.
Jesus Christ also gave second chances generously. Scandalizing the people of his day, he spoke and dined with notorious sinners. And he challenged those sinners to change, to start over.
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Christianity also teaches us to give others second chances. One time Jesus has asked how many times we need to forgive others, and he said we should someone who sins against us 77 times (Matthew 18:22). Some translations even say it’s seventy times seven!
Jesus was not suggesting we should walk around with little notebooks and stop forgiving on the seventy-eighth offense. Rather, he was telling us that we should forgive people again and again.
So what do second chances have to do with the new year?
The new year is a natural time to take stock and to try to live differently. I love that the church provides its own times for taking stock and starting over. Lent is a really good times for this. But since our religion is about second chances, there’s never a bad time to take stock. Now is as good a time as any.
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It’s pretty common around now for people to make resolutions — things they’ll do to improve themselves in the new year. People sometimes strive to eat differently, or use a treadmill more, or something else that relates to physical health or personal appearance.
Maybe you’re one of those people. If so, I’m not here to criticize you. But I would invite you to think bigger. One time Jesus was asked about the most important commandment. Quoting the Old Testament, he said we should love God and love our neighbors (Matthew 22:34-40).
If Jesus said those are the most important commandments, maybe it’s good if we try our best to keep them. This year, what can you do to love God and love your neighbor more fully?
I don’t know what’s right for you, but maybe you’ll work on loving God by reading scripture more or spending more time in prayer. Maybe you’ll love your neighbor by helping those who are in need or giving companionship to those who might be lonely. You’ll know what’s right for you.
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If you make a resolution and fail, don’t worry! Remember, Christianity is a religion of second chances. You can always start over and try again.
The amazing truth is that we don’t have to get our resolutions right or do anything else for God to love us. God already loves each of us more than we can imagine. The reason to try again isn’t to get on God’s good side, but rather to live out our gratitude for God’s love. He loved us first, so let us love others.
The amazing truth is that we don’t have to get our resolutions right or do anything else for God to love us. God already loves each of us more than we can imagine.
The year 2022 was an eventful year for me. After a serious health crisis and a major surgery, it feels like a great chance to reassess and start over.
In 2023, I’m planning to spend more of my prayer time in gratitude and more of my social media time proclaiming God’s love for us all, you and me and everyone else.
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So, by all means, get out that treadmill if that’s your thing. But I hope you’ll also join me in this new year. Let’s try to get better at the most important things — it’s all about love. And when we inevitably fall short, let’s give thanks that our God is always ready to give us a second chance or a third chance or a millionth chance.
Happy new year! Happy fresh start!
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