I’m not a doer of New Year’s Resolutions. I stopped around ten years ago. Like many people, most of my resolutions did not make it out of January intact. It dawned on me about ten years ago that our Lutheran, Biblical teaching explains exactly why this failure happens to most of us. The Law is limited in its ability to motivate. A successful change often only happens because of a change in the heart…and that requires both Law and Gospel.
The exercise of self-examination–the sort we often do at New Year’s–is a good thing, however. For me, this is a good time of the year to take stock and renew. I think most of us see it that way.
I have moved over to what I think of as 3 or 4 “themes” in my life I wish to concentrate on. The first one is usually the most important one and impacts the others quite often. My first priority theme for 2019 is “silence is golden.”
This is not a commitment to not talking! Although I do hope this theme means that when I talk I do so more positively and constructively. This theme isn’t as much about what comes out of my mouth as it is about what goes into my ears.
There is too much noise in our world today. All the noise is easy enough to see when one turns on the television. Recently, in a public place, I was subjected to a television tuned in to the day’s episode of TMZ, the entertainment show. It looked as bad as a 24/7 news channel in that its staff were busy arguing. About what? Brad Pitt’s new hairstyle? There may be too much arguing and noise on the news channels, but I will contend that a good old political argument still has more value than what I was seeing and hearing.
It doesn’t improve when you move over to social media. Our exhaustion with social media continues to grow for the same reasons. It may be in text form, but the noise is still very much there.
What should we fill our ears with? The apostle Paul leads the way. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). The word of Christ never ceases to astound me. One, because Jesus never seems to waste a word in His speaking. Two, because He understood the value of silence. At the manger, at the crowd who wanted to stone the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), and on the cross, Jesus is silent. (He is in many other places as well). He doesn’t argue or fill our ears with more noise. The noise is always trying to force us. Jesus’ silence and His powerful Word economy only invites us. His words fill the ears not with noise, but with the beautiful Good News, the most important thing we need to hear.
For me this theme will bring other good things. It will bring less time in front of screens, perusing social media, or idly listening to anything other than the Word…and probably music. It will also mean, God-willing, more peace, joy, and hope. We are not better for all our media saturation. We are better for hearing the Word of Christ.
I share this with you in case you are looking for more of what only the Word of Christ brings. My prayer for you is that you will have a 2019 of greater peace and joy. I hope you find it in the silence and in the Word of Christ.
Sincerely, Pastor T.