But something is lost on our culture.
Ecclesiastes 2:11 - Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Last January I joined the gym at work. I actually just wanted a place to jog and shoot hoops early in the morning before work while it was cold outside. It didn't cross my mind that other people would be chasing after weight loss goals for the new year. I arrived at my required pre-membership orientation with about fifty other people. Turns out, we were part of the "New Year crowd" that the gym regulars despised. Because of us, the gym is packed in January and February, but it always levels off again by March.
People are born. People live some length of time. Then people die. Nobody is immune to this cycle of inevitability. The reality is that we will not be able to bring anything we have earned or gathered in this life with us into the next. We spend our time chasing after a career, financial security, a particular body image, or a host of other fleeting things. In the end, "chasing after the wind" is the most suitable description.
But there is an attitude that I can only describe as uniquely Christian that should help us see opportunities change, transition and self-betterment like the New Year differently. This life is essentially a training ground. We have an opportunity to embrace Christ and become a new creation. This is not because of anything we have done or could do, but entirely because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. After we come to this intimate knowledge of our Maker, we spend the rest of our lives training in righteousness. Before a Holy God we are seen as perfect, because Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. But we still struggle with sin in a fallen world and we will until the day that Christ comes again.
That all being said, there can be eternal benefit to our pursuits. Instead of making all of our goals focused on the ourselves and what we want, we can fashion our goals after a longing to emulate Christ and glorify God. The mission at hand is simple: to turn goals with results that will fade with this world into glorifying opportunities for the redemption of this fallen world.
If my focus in my weight loss goals are for body image, self-esteem, or even just good health - they are all pursuits of vanity. But I hope that my weight loss goal is rooted in a desire to push off the chains of apathy, gluttony and self-pleasing and pursue God-honoring decisions in my eating and exercise habits.
The New Year provides a culture-friendly opportunity for reflection and self-assessment. With this New Year, look for new opportunities to please Him, instead of pleasing yourself. And if you don't know Him, I'd be happy to tell you more!
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