Local News: Pro-life Mississippi is sponsoring the 26th annual Vigil for the Unborn on Saturday, January 19 at 6 p.m. at the Capitol Building 1st floor Rotunda in downtown Jackson. The purpose of the vigil is to commemorate the lives of infants lost to abortion over the last 40 years, and as well as to pray for the end of abortion. For more information, go to www.prolifemississippi.org.
In his classic devotional, Surprised by Joy, the New Year’s Day reading is an excerpt from a January 1942 letter written by C.S. Lewis. In the letter, Lewis advises a person regarding “New Year’s resolutions” to overcome longstanding temptations:
“I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations… No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is very sign of His presence.”
Every Christian can relate to what Lewis describes here. None of us are as mature as we should be and we’ll spend our lives putting off sinful habits. New Year’s seems as good a time as any to take stock of one’s life and see what progress is being made. As Lewis said, it can be despairing at times to consider just how little progress we are making. We still say hurtful, unkind things to each other. We still are selfish, treating the hours in a day as if they are “ours”, not to be shared with other people who might inconvenience us. We still, much as we don’t like to admit it, find certain sinful behaviors enjoyable.
Lewis gives practical, pastoral advice to people in such situations: keep going. As he says, however often we fall, we are not undone if we keep going after each fall. As he says, by the time our journey in this life is over, we will be very “tattered”. One thing, though, that takes enormous pressure off is to realize that our work in this life is not what everything hinges on. As Lewis points out, the mansion with many rooms is already ready for us.
We are not fighting besetting sins in order to make heaven; we are journeying with the certainty that the home Christ has prepared for us is already a sure guarantee. Christ’s work on the cross has earned us a perfect salvation. We spend our lives being made more like Christ, by the Holy Spirit’s work in us and our cooperation with it, because Christ has already purchased us from sin, death, and the devil.
It’s easy to think that intense anger at oneself over besetting sins is a good thing, but Lewis points out that losing one’s temper can lead to giving up. Sensing how much sin remains in us is, ironically, a good sign. As Lewis says, being cognizant of our sin shows God is present with us. In Mere Christianity, Lewis made the astute observation that “a moderately bad man knows he is not very good; a thoroughly bad man things he is all right.” The more like Christ we are becoming, the more aware we will be of how much further we have to go. When we are in a backslidden state, we are most likely to evade facing up to our sins, deceiving others and even deceiving ourselves as well.
Let us take Lewis’ advice in 2013, owning our sins, but not allowing them to drive us to despair. Christ’s blood cleanses us from our sins, so as we live from day to day we can struggle against our sins knowing that forgiveness has been won for us by the Son of God and we are beloved children of God for his sake. Happy New Year!
• For those who are interested in recapping some of 2012’s stories, here is a list of recommended articles:
Lent: Time for a phone fast?
MLK Day and the Sanctity of Life Sunday: Dr. King and the importance of justice
Belhaven grieves loss of Dr. Wynn Kenyon
Christianity still exploding in the Global South
Inerrancy: The church’s dividing line?
Biblical holiness: Finding common ground between Wesleyans and Westminster
Review of C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet
Reflections on the loss of Chuck Colson: 1931 to 2012
Remembering Dr. Gary Holdiness: February 7, 1958 to May 6, 2012
The mission of Jackson Presbyterian Examiner
Does the Bible command people to love themselves?
Good news for dads on Father’s Day
Mental Health: A freedom often taken for granted
Ten memorable 20th century Christians
Chick-Fil-A and speaking the truth in love
Original sin: A point of agreement between the Reformed and Arminian
Thoughts on the English only movement
October 11: International Day of the Girl
Pastor Appreciation Month 2012: Remembering Dr. Knox Chamblin
Wading through the Billy Graham, Mitt Romney, and Mormonism controversy
All Saints Day: Remembering Dot Alexander
Phillip Melancthon: Keeping the gospel at the center
The Great Commission: Responding to Issues, Etc.
Classic movie review: Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope
December 21 and the Mayan controversy