By Bishop Jonathan Holston
“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.”—Micah 6:8 (MSG)
So we’re at that place where we’re checking our resolution list again. Unfortunately, just like last year and in previous years as well, we notice that there were some resolutions we achieved with excellence while others left much to be desired.
Frankly, if the truth is really told, there were many dreams and aspirations certainly within reach.
When traveling to South Africa and Zimbabwe with our group from South Carolina, we visited the Mandela Home in Soweto. In the small backyard area, I noticed a plaque on a wall that shared this quote from Nelson Mandela saying, “In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education….but internal factors may be more crucial in assessing ones development as a human being; humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men—qualities within reach of every human soul.”
That brings to mind Pascual Perez, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves in 1998, who was lost on the I-285 perimeter around the city of Atlanta. He was within reach of the stadium but could not locate the exit off the expressway. In October, a group walking in a corn maze called 911 because they were “tired of being lost,” only to find out the exit was behind them, certainly within reach.
How often have we given up on something that in hindsight we were really within reach of achieving?
I am often reminded of this quote from Winston Churchill that says, “Success is not final and failure is not fatal, it’s the courage to continue that counts.” Truly, I believe that success is always a road under construction. Michelangelo said it this way: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
So once again, it’s a new year. The task at hand for each of us is to make a list of those things we will resolve ourselves to do in the following months. I will join you in this annual ritual of community life, but Micah 6:8 might offer a better line of thought. What does the Lord require of us?
Scripture shares these words: namely, to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Eugene Peterson’s interpretation in The Message records it this way: “Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.”
A great beginning to this way of living is by attending to the General Rules of our United Methodist Church in doing no harm, doing good and attending to the ordinances of the church. These simple “ordinances” include regular attendance in worship, bible study, prayer, communion, Christian conferencing and giving of our time, talent, gifts and service, as well as being a witness in our community and beyond.
The larger question before us is whether our resolutions will include any of these items that would undoubtedly be on any list compiled by John Wesley? By any measure, these are definitely qualities within reach of us all.
What say you?