Why Has Nothing Changed in the New Year?

New Years can be such fun—the parties, the excitement, the resolutions, the noisemakers and anticipation. The expectation of taking everything good from the old year into the new one without any of the bad.

Somehow, things seem like they’re going to be better just because. And sometimes they are. But more often than not we’re sadly disappointed that nothing changes.

The Harsh Realities of a New Year

Many counselors have more first time calls for help with depression in the first six weeks of a new year than any other period in a year. The days are cold and grey. People are hunkered down until spring. And the bills are an abrupt reminder of things we forgot we bought.

Salvation can be a very similar experience.  After all, “if anyone is in Christ they’re a new creation.  Old things are passing away, behold everything has become new.” Right?

Then, why am I still struggling with the same problems—my marriage, kids, finances? Why do I still have my temper or want to drink or lust? Why do I still worry? Great questions! Questions that most of us struggle with from time to time.

The Upper Room Discourse

A great place to go with those questions is John 15:1-11.  This is the very heart of what is known as “The Upper Room Discourse.” This is the last one-on-one time that our Lord Jesus spent with the 12 Disciples before He went to the cross.

In this passage He explained to the 12 the relationship that they, and all believers, were to have with Him. Verse 5 is the key:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.”

As with many of our Lord’s examples and parables He uses nature to illustrate a spiritual Truth. Things that His followers understood perfectly, but for us today might require a bit of digging to relate to.

We Are The Branches

The concept of “abiding” in Christ is best understood today as the process of  horticultural “grafting”.  An example would be with fruit trees.

If you were to cut a branch from a yellow delicious apple tree, and cut the trunk  of a red delicious apple tree, then place the cut end of the branch with the clean wound of the trunk and wrap it tightly with cord that would be grafting.

The branch would continue to live but it would be sustained by the root system of a new tree.  The resulting fruit would be a totally “new creation” from what would have been produced had it remained on its original tree.

How To Apply This in The New Year

Paul used this analogy in Romans 11:11-32 illustrating how Israel’s relationship with God as His chosen people had been severed by their sin and unbelief, but how they would one day be restored as they were “grafted” back into fellowship with Him.

A few principles from the process of grafting might help us truly become New Creations as we begin this New Year:

1. We must make a clean break from our past

2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that “Godly sorrow leads to repentance that we will never regret but worldly sorrow leads to death.”  Godly sorrow over our sin leads to true and lasting change.

We must hate our sin as badly as God hates it and do whatever is necessary to put it behind us. This doesn’t mean we won’t be tempted to sin, but it no longer has dominion over us.

2. We must be grafted into the vine

Jesus is the true Vine and the church is the body of Christ.  The cords that hold us in tight fellowship with the Lord is active membership in a Bible believing church and in a strong small group which provides mutual accountability, prayer, encouragement, and support.

Iron sharpens iron and lone sheep are easy prey.  Jesus said that it is by our love that men would know we are His disciples.  That is our love for Him first and for one another second.  Bearing one another’s burdens is one way to show our love for Him.

3. We must abide in Christ and allow Him to abide in us

Christianity is a relationship, not a religion!  The Lord Jesus Himself through the Person of His  Holy Spirit desires to be as much a part of our lives as we will allow Him to be.

Walking With Him Daily

As the old hymn goes: “He walks with me and He talks with me along life’s narrow way.” This happens quite naturally as we invest daily time in His Word and in prayer. This is NOT a “verse a day to keep the devil away”, but rather the meaningful time we would have with our closest friend.

Reading and studying His Word and solid devotionals is Him talking to us. Effectual prayer is us talking to God. Both together form communication that develops into a true, intimate, abiding and eternal friendship.

The Fruits of Relationship

The fruit that results from this relationship certainly includes the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:  love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control. The Lord Jesus Himself produces this fruit in and through those who consciously, deliberately choose to abide in Him, and allow Him and His Word to abide in them.

The fruit is the result of the relationship, never the other way around. How might our lives, marriages, homes, families, churches, even communities be different if we began to see the Christian life not as what we can do for God, but what He alone can do through us?

We have probably all heard the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. If what we’re doing isn’t working, perhaps trying something different might produce something different.

Building a relationship with someone who can produce in and through us a life that is abundantly more that we could hope or ask. We cannot do His part. He will not do our part. But when those two come together miracles happen, mountains move, hearts and homes are mended, those who were slaves to sin are set free, and everything truly becomes new.

May 2018 bring the Happiest of New Years to you and yours!