With the new year almost upon us it’s natural to start reflecting on the past and looking and toward the future. If you’re like me, you can relate to the realization that there are certain habits that I want to change or goals that I want to achieve. There is a certain role for fortitude that gets expressed through wanting to change to become “better”. We have all made these kinds of resolutions because we have a picture of the kind of person we want to become. Dallas Willard in his picture of sanctification (Christian growth) employs the model of VIM – vision (the kind of person you want to become), Intention (actually wanting to become that person), and Motivation (the inner power to change).
As the new year approaches I think ti’s safe to say that most of us have this belief that it’s not good to stand still as a Christian and that in some way we need to grow spiritually. This intention to grow in faith is absolutely critical. Why is it so important?
It’s a nightmare to let my “I want to’s” become “I wish I would have’s”. For instance, we have all said or thought things like, “I want to become more godly”, “I want to read the Bible with the goal of real inner transformation”, “I want to get involved with a group of people that have the gospel as central to all they do”, and the list goes on and on. If you say want it, why don’t you act on it? On one hand, we don’t want to be “that person” who wakes up one day and finds out that all of their “I would like to” have become “I wish I would have”. On the other hand, isn’t it hard to take the initial steps of intention to begin to move toward real personal change?
The more long-lasting problem with lack of intention is I have found it to be true that the older you get the harder it is to muster up intention. The more you tell yourself, I want to do change but I don’t want to put forth the effort, your heart will become harder as opposed to softer. The habit of sloth gets ingrained in such a way that often times people wake up too late for any sense of intention.
If there is no sense of getting after it (intention) Jonathan Edwards calls these merely “weak, dull, and lifeless wouldings (I would like to…).” In some ways it’s better to just call it as it is and not say things like “I really want to become this kind of person” if you don’t really have intention. I mean, isn’t that really a form of duplicity? As 2013 begins take a moment to think about the kind of person you’d like to become. In honesty with God, do you really want it? Are you really ready to put forth the initial intention? You won’t be able to change you completely but intention is your responsibility. The old Christians thought that sloth was pretty deadly, so much so that many speak of it as one of the most pernicious of sins, kind of the gateway to others…
So what do you think about getting going this year? Are you ready? How will this year be challenging for you? How would you like to grow? How do you see yourself getting out of a comfort zone this year? I’m ready to jump in as well!