“Band-Aid” Christianity and New Year’s Resolutions

Posted: January 2, 2012 in Christian Discipleship

One of the biggest tendencies in life is to put “band aids” on our problems, struggles, and issues.  A person we know consistently makes us angry, so our band aid solution is to now avoid them.  We’ve been gossiping a lot lately, so we decide to start hanging out with new people.  Conflict is reigning in our marriage and we quickly resort to better communicative methods to patch up the messiness.  In these situations, there may be a desire for change, but we all know our typical, unhealthy behaviors will continue to reappear in due time.  Change isn’t that easy.

You can see these types of solutions in the New Year’s resolutions that we’re setting right now.  I’m going to spend more time with family and friends.  I’m going to work out 5 days a week.  I’m going to quit smoking.  I’m going to begin volunteering.  We reach for solutions or resolutions that have no foundation.  At times (especially initially), we may have the strength to muster up enough resolve to head to the gym and work out or drive to the local homeless shelter and volunteer.  But don’t these types of things wane over time?  Don’t the band-aid solutions/resolutions to our lives fade when life gets hectic and complicated?

We do this in Christianity with Christian-solutions.  I’m going to pray more this year (And we forget, or life gets busy).  I’m going to read my whole Bible this year (And we get to Exodus and it’s already September).  I’m really going to work on controlling my anger this year (And we’re soon barking at our spouse because she left the milk out again).  Stuff like this happens all the time.  Our band-aid solutions, whether they be secular or Christian, tend to get swatted down like a Dwight Howard blocked shot.  We throw these efforts up in the air thinking they will bring us newfound life and growth, but then disappointment sets in as the efforts come up well-short.  Moreover, we’re embarrassed — because often times we only make it a few days (even hours) before these solutions are dashed.

The curious thing about our Christian band-aids is that God doesn’t like them.  He doesn’t sit up in heaven and applause when he sees us laboring towards solutions that have no root.  It’s not that he doesn’t like structured discipline and resolve, but He simply knows that individual efforts aren’t going to last.  He knows that only His grace can cover and transform the struggles, insecurities, and failures that we carry.

Jesus reveals his displeasure towards such band-aid solutions in Matthew 23:25-26: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”

Jesus was not in favor of those who covered themselves beautifully on the outside while their hearts remained a mess. He sees right through that.  And our band-aid solutions to life typically decorate us on the outside in ways that only feebly change us on the inside, if they even change us at all.

I’ve recently been reading a book entitled Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp.  He drives home the reality that true change begins in the heart and not through altering behavior or changing circumstances.  Changing behavior or relying on new solutions may help for a period of time, but they don’t dig roots.  Tripp writes, “God changes us not just by teaching us to do different things, but by recapturing our hearts to serve him alone” (pg. 71).

Lasting change starts and ends with the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.  His death and resurrection opened up the door for true change.  Faith in Him creates the avenue for His lasting work to happen.  Otherwise, we will just buffer along searching for fixes that only end up falling off like a band-aid at a water park.

I’ve never been a big New Year’s resolution setter.  In fact, I can’t recall anything.  But I do know that I’ve often settled for band-aid Christianity, where I try to get near God by fulfilling the good, Christian-flavored duties.  I’ve believed that doing these things and developing a commendable spiritual performance is what God wants.  In that, resting in His grace becomes more of an afterthought.

I’m now realizing more and more that God is looking at me and seeing how out of whack my view of Him is.  My desperate attempts to keep putting on band-aids don’t last, and I need His grace to bring about legitimate change.  God’s grace is what truly enables us to redeem our lifestyles in renewed ways.  It covers fully, not temporarily.  It cleanses entirely, rather than just stopping the chaos.  And it instills life and a new identity, which our hearts need.  These are the realities our hearts should rest in as we enter a new year.

  1. Tim Gombis says:

    So true, Haddon. It just seems that the continued popularity of making resolutions is because of marketers for health-clubs! Get people to sign up in January and you know the gyms will be empty from Feb. onward . . .

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