If you are like me, beginning a new year always feels rushed. Coming off of a Christmas "break" that often feels nothing like a break, we are thrust into a new year where we try to quickly get our bearings. We look around and notice the usual universal theme, that of goal setting and new aspirations for a new year. We devise lists to keep, whether mental or written and hope that the year will bring change in one or more areas of our lives. While there is nothing wrong with goals and aspirations, as Christians, we must be conscious of how we arrive at our desired goals. We live in a world that is so influential and "in-your-face," with social media constantly trying to set our value system. When exposed to the world's value system via social media, the subconscious thought we are often left with is clear: "I'm not enough, and I'm not doing enough." A sense of lack is created, and we often set our "goals" from this sense of lack. We want to make more money, start a business, lose weight, and get better at this or that—all worthy goals. But as with almost everything in God's Kingdom, our heart's motivation is vital in decision-making.
When We Forget Our Identity In Christ
When we forget our identity in Christ, as someone who is joined to His life, we search for identity elsewhere. Unluckily for us, almost everyone around us is giving us advice on what that identity should be: things like your job/income, home and car, your kid's school, fitness level, hobbies, etc. We could create a nearly endless list of external things that we allow to determine our value and position in society, whatever that means. As believers, we need to be aware of this trap. The entire world is striving to achieve a sense of purpose and peace. A state of mind where they finally feel like they can rest and be genuinely content. We often allow that very world system to influence us to think the same way and focus on external, natural things to achieve joy. The irony is that a believer already possesses those things, truly. Attempting to gain something we already have in Christ through natural means only frustrates us and distracts our hearts from the reality of what we already have.
Don't Join The Rat Race
My purpose in writing this is to let you off the hook. To encourage you (as I encourage myself) not to join the rat race this year. Make a conscious effort to focus your heart on what you already have in Christ. If the phrase "in Christ" is cliche or not impactful to you, I'd encourage you to do a bible study based on the phrase. Meditate on the things that God says already belong to you. Let your heart become content with the finished work of Jesus and what that accomplished on your behalf. Let your goals for the year come out of that place of rest and contentment, not a mentality of lack that is so often created by observing this world's value system.
1 Thessalonians 4:11 is a very underrated scripture. It says, "Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and work with your own hands." For some reason, when I read that, it lets me off the hook. It reminds me that I don't need to jump in the rat race. It recalibrates my value system, and I remember I'm just passing through this place. Leading a quiet, seemingly unremarkable life in the world's eyes is ok. It also reminds me that the Lord's value system is very different than the one we observe all around us. That person you encourage in the grocery store has infinitely more eternal value than the car you drive or the house you own. The things that most people spend all their time chasing are irrelevant and can't bring true contentment.
I hope this encourages you this New Year as it has me. I hope it reminds you that God has given us everything in Christ, and it's ok to lead a quiet life.
Written By: Travis McDaniel (Co-Owner and Creator of Rooted + Grounded)