Who was it who said that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'? I could probably find out...thanks to the wonders of the Internet...but then again (to quote Catherine Tate) "Am I boverred?".
I had lots of good intentions with I started this blog, a couple of months ago. I promised myself that come what may, I would attempt to write something thought- provoking every day. But like so many resolutions...I haven't managed to keep it up.
There's something inherently human about that, isn't there? Time and again we all promise ourselves that we will make a change for the better in our lives. We will diet, start exercising, quit smoking, telephone our mother more often....And time and time again, we fail. What is it about us that makes us so weak willed?
St Paul understood this dilemma. Describing himself as a 'slave to sin' he said (in Romans 7) "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do. But what I hate, that I do." There is truth in this...none of us are proud of the weak-willed things we do...the over-eating, the over-consumption. In fact we hate some of the things we do (and criticise them in other people)...but we still do them ourselves. Our minds are in conflict with our wills. We are, in Paul's phrase, "slaves to sin".
The good news, for Christians, however...is that whatever we do, however much our wills are in conflict with our minds, God loves us. God has always loved us, and God always will love us. We are, despite all we do which is ugly, "beautiful human persons" (in the words of my friend Pip Wilson). In contrast to all other religious systems, Christianity maintains that there is nothing we can do, by our own efforts, to bring ourselves into God's presence. God loves us SO much, that he sent his own son to us..."so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life" (John 3:16). God has done it. The wonderful truth is that God is much less interested in what we do, that what we are... his precious children. Like an earthly parent who keeps on loving their child however far they stray.
So, does that mean that resolutions, and 'improving ourselves' in general are unimportant? No. Speaking to the citizens of Athens, St Paul said that God is that in which "we live and move and have our being"(Acts 17:28). God is integral to our very core..."the ground of our being" in the words of Paul Tillich. Such a fundamental and deep connection with God is what gives us our sense of right and wrong, our moral code, our desire to improve and strive for perfection. It is, I believe, God within us who gently releases us from our slavery to sin. If we are open to that release, we will want to change, to become more like him.
New resolutions will be part of that process for many. My resolution for 2007? It's to spend less time in front of the one-eyed god in the living room, and more time with the God in whom I live and move and have my being. I can only hope that by doing so, I will be less of a slave to sin, and more of a child of God.
I'll let you know how I get on!