Ready or not here we are; 2022 is officially upon us.
There are many ways to view the opportunities of a new year. From a marketing prospective the New Year is most likely going to focus on at least two things: getting fit, losing those extra pounds, or finding storage solutions for stuff we have accumulated.
I can’t quote any actual numbers about what the percentage of resolutions that will find its center in those two areas, but given the failure rate of resolutions it doesn’t matter much. I think for some people there may be a sigh of relief just getting into the new year, since we often find great hope in the promise of new things.
I am reminded of something Jesus introduced as a new thing that is not just appropriate for the new year but may help navigate the unopened gift that is 2022. John recorded the original conversation in his gospel about a new thing which apparently made enough of an impression on him that he used the idea in two of the three of his small letters. The context suggests how the importance of this new thing could have been overlooked in the middle of an avalanche of emotion. Let me expand on the evening for a moment.
The traditional Passover meal was turned upside down when Jesus began to wash the feet of the twelve. He reminded them the concept of servanthood can easily be lost to those in places of authority. When Jesus announced there was someone at the table that was going to turn Him over to people who were plotting to kill Him, the disciples couldn’t take it in. Or as some might say “mind blown.” Before there is any time to digest that information He tells them He is leaving. The men who had been His constant companions for three years were now going to be left behind and they could not follow Him. Then Jesus says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).
While John certainly thought about it later, in the moment it was completely lost on Peter: “Simon Peter asked him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ (John 13:36a NIV). I don’t want to look like I am picking on Peter because we often only hear what we think is most relevant to our immediate plans. Peter couldn’t imagine not having Jesus in his world. I think Peter heard the word love, but that was no big deal, after all it was Jesus talking. But he missed a really important part “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:28 NIV). Jesus followers would be identified and defined by how they loved — not by their wardrobe or what was hanging on their walls. How they loved people.
In case you hadn’t noticed we live in a pretty divided world. When considering the new year wouldn’t it be great if Christ followers figured out that new thing, the new command that Jesus had talked about.
Bill Upton is a retired chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.