As we ring in the New Year, most of us as Americans are going to do what we do every year. We’re going to set new goals; new resolutions that often reflect improvements that we’ve decided are necessary in our life, after soul-searching and reflecting on the previous year.
Some will decide to eat more healthy, some will decide to turn off the TV, some will decide to spend more time with your family, be more intentional as a parent, spend more time with your spouse, the list of things that we could improve about ourselves as Americans could be just about infinite.
For the church, however, there’s one that isn’t often talked about, ownership; ownership of our own spiritual life, ownership of our spiritual condition, our spiritual maturity, our spiritual growth, and our relationship with God. When we talk about ownership, we’re not talking about possession.
For anybody that belongs to God we know that we are God’s own possession, owned and kept by Him. What we’re talking about, rather, is personal accountability. It can be so easy to just blame our spiritual condition on somebody else, so we need to recognize that this way of thinking is the way of the world. This is a way of thinking that we as individuals need to be on guard against.
Throughout the Bible, we see the idea of accountability. We see the idea of reaping what we sow, repentance (turning away form our way of life), and accountability to God, accountability to one another, and accountability to the people who have been appointed over us in the Lord. Oftentimes, I hear of people blaming the church for their own shortcomings.
When it comes to our own spiritual life, there can be a lot of finger pointing at people other than ourselves for our own spiritual condition. Now, this is fair to say, to an extent. Our leaders will be held accountable by God for how they are shepherding us, how they’re keeping watch over our souls. But have you ever heard somebody say, “you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t force him to drink?”
And so it is with our spiritual life. Are you down and out in your faith and don’t feel close to God, but you haven’t been to church in years? Well, take ownership of that. Are you disappointed in your relationship with God and don’t feel any closer to Him than you did when you first believed? Well, how often do you pick up your Bible to drink deeply from the fountain of the Word of God, or how often do you pray?
Do you feel like you live a solitary life of faith, and that there isn’t anybody that cares about you or your personal life? Well, is there a local body of believers that you meet with regularly, or is that something that you haven’t prioritized in your spiritual life? Do you blame others because you’ve noticed that you aren’t growing spiritually, but you don’t serve in the church in any capacity? Well, take ownership of that and use your spiritual gifts for the good of the kingdom of God! That will cause you to grow! The list could go on and on.
So in this New Year that our Lord Jesus has set before us, let us make the resolution to take ownership of our faith. If we feel like we’re lacking in some area, or we don’t feel fulfilled in our relationship with God, then the chances are 100% that it isn’t God that is the problem! He has given us everything we need through Christ who strengthens us.
The problem lies within our willingness to recognize our issues and faults and shortcomings, and accept responsibility for them. Allow God to work on us and change us, and make us more obedient to Him. So may we do that, and give ourselves back over to Him in obedience and faith, trusting completely that He knows and wants only what is best for us as we walk through this life.
(Kevin Boothby is the Pastor of Tracy Creek Memorial Church in Vestal, N.Y.)