Atheists Will HATE This Post Because It PROVES Common Ground With Christians

Written by Wes Walker on January 15, 2016

The presents are long since opened, the ball has dropped, resolutions have been made (and broken), the kids are back in school, and life’s ordinary ebb and flow has gone back to whatever “normal” looks like.

The annual Christmas-time polarization has faded back to mere cultural background noise. Fights about coffee cups and nativity scenes yielded to the underused gym memberships, and promises to eat more kale.

Those same seven days, strangely, reflect both the widest gulf and closest approach in the gap between Christians and non-believers.

New Year’s Day is the one day where non-Christians come closest to affirming Christian foundational beliefs. If you think I’m exaggerating, or being ironic — I’m not.

New Year’s Day is different from all other days. First day of the calendar, it’s all about fresh starts and new beginnings; a day where many take stock and determine what changes should be made. This concedes a fact many non-Christians spend the rest of the year denying.

Although we tell ourselves people are basically “good” (whatever we mean by “good”), even our own resolutions contradict us. Look at them. We promise ourselves that *this* year will be different. We will be more self-disciplined, take better care of ourselves, make fewer foolish choices, or stop neglecting those things in life we consider important.

One of the biggest sections in any bookstore is Self help and self improvement. This is a recurring pattern. We *know* the value and benefit of certain positive life choices, but when it comes down to actual living, we have different priorities.  Have you ever asked why?

There’s a conflict between the standards we should pattern our lives and choices after, and the real and gritty way we actually live.

Nobody has to promise themselves that “this year” will be the year they finally take up smoking, or double their waistline, or stop exercising, spend less time with loved ones, or do more impulse shopping.  No, those are the sorts of things we have to guard against.  But why? Why the conflict between the way we should live, and the way we actually live?

Evolution doesn’t help solve this, either. Because many of our dumb choices make us less likely to succeed in life. If evolution were the explanation, surely this would have been selected out of us by those people who are more disciplined, and have less self-destructive habits. But these habits are part of the universal human condition: that great equalizer, regardless of race, language, sex and so on.  

We all make dumb choices… and in seeing that, many of us wish to rise above our natural inclinations, rein in those dumb choices, and replace them with better ones.

Regardless whether you view the Bible as accurate history or an attempt to explain the world around us, it remains that the Christian (and Jewish) creation account does a pretty accurate job of describing broken human nature. The Christian word for the inner drive to do things even if they’re contrary to your best interest is “sin”

Sin isn’t really more complicated that that, even in this world that pretends to call people “basically good”. You don’t believe they are. That’s why you don’t leave your keys in the ignition at the mall.

But as internet memes like to point out, all those good intentions of Jan 1 only take you so far.  They don’t change the root problem. The gyms that are packed tighter than a salmon run on January 5th might have the occasional tumbleweed blow through them on May 5th.

Knowing the right thing to do isn’t quite enough. You need a powerful desire to do the right thing that overthrows your real desire to do the wrong things. Positive motivators are often used to help the resolutions stay on track. “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” for instance.  

So really, you need a changed heart, and new, healthier loves to crowd out the old, destructive ones. And that, really, is a snapshot of the Christian life. The Son of God walking the planet wasn’t about rulebooks, politics, fancy buildings, fundraising, or your favorite pet cause. Not at all.

Galatians 1:4 sums it up. “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age…”  He came that sin [the behaviour we do even if we know it is wrong or self-destructive] does not need to dictate our lives.

Christian belief isn’t God with a big stick waiting to whack those who go astray. It would have stalled out long ago if it were that. It is a realizing that our own best efforts never get us off that New Year’s resolution treadmill. That our behaviour will never change until our hearts love something greater than those wrong choices we find ourselves drawn to.

This is why the Gospel is called good news. It isn’t about a new sacrificial system or moral checklist. It’s about knowing a personal God who — himself — stepped up to bear the weight of our wrongdoing. That we might be given new loves, and be drawn to right choices, not by fear of punishment, but because now, something stronger draws us.

Share if you want to keep your New Year’s Resolutions