One of my least favorite comic strips is one called Lio. It has a consistently morbid theme that involves a little boy, Lio, pulling dark surprises, that usually include ghosts, vampires or goblins, on his clueless father. I confess; I don’t get it. I’m guessing it’s French.
Imagine my shock when, as I read the Sunday comics and skimmed over the Lio block, I saw a quote from one of my favorite authors: G.K. Chesterton. Worlds collided! It read:
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.
I can’t say with certainty what Chesterton meant with that comment, but here’s the meaning I attach to it. We have high hopes for our new years. We hope for fewer disasters, wars, stock market upheavals and personal losses. John Lennon famously sang, “…and Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one; without any fear.” How deeply we long for relief from the fallen condition of this world.
Folks, I’m not sure genuine relief is at all likely to happen this year. Honestly, I’m pretty sure it won’t. The world around us sadly reflects the same brokenness and selfishness of our own hearts. Until we are individually and collectively redeemed, the world will still groan in agony.
This is where I believe Chesterton is going in his quote. Rather than blindly hoping the world will be different in 2011 than it has been for millennia, we should long for and pursue personal transformation. Scripture urges us not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Ro. 12:2)
What might that look like? That we would:
- Hate what is evil; cling to what is good (Ro. 12:9)
- Honor others above ourselves (v. 10)
- Be joyful in hope (v. 12)
- Be patient in affliction (v. 12)
- Be faithful in prayer (v. 12)
- Share with those in need (v. 13)
- Practice hospitality (v. 13)
- In summary: that we would not be overcome by evil; but would overcome evil with good (v. 21)
If Christ returns in 2011, everything will change in a flash. Those who follow him will know indescribable peace and joy. But until he does, we will experience years similar to the ones we’ve already known: filled with moments of celebration and sorrow, victory and defeat, glory and ruin.
I grudgingly have to admit, Lio has a point. It will be to our benefit to approach the new year with a soul that is committed to personal transformation, rather than to expect something new from a tired world.
I’m still not reading his comic strips.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.