The Best Goal for a New Year

Originally published Friday, 03 January 2014.

Another year has gone by. With a fresh page turned on the calendar, the new year lies before us unmarked. The new year is like an adventure waiting on the other side of an open door. For many, this fresh start means leaving the disappointments and trials of the previous year behind. Resolutions are made. Goals are set. The potential for great change stands there like a gift waiting to be opened.

What are your resolutions for this year? Have you written them down? If you haven't, take a moment and do so. Consider all that you want to change in your life. Think about that habit you've wanted to quit, that goal you've wanted to reach, and that sinful burden you've wanted to shed.

Now cross them all off. Yes, cross them all off and write this one goal:

"To seek to know Christ and desire him above all things."

Yep, that's it. Just the one goal. Seems crazy, doesn't it? Maybe too simple. What about cutting back on that favorite snack? What about being nicer to my kids? What about spending less money, being more organized, and starting a new hobby?

While all our resolutions and goals for the new year are good, the truth is, they will not bring about the profound change our heart's most desperately need. The goals we set year after year will not change and transform us from the inside out. No matter how well-intentioned or resolute we are, we will fail at some point. (Often by February!) But this goal, the goal of knowing Christ--that goal changes things.

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ." Philippians 3:8

In Scripture, those who knew Christ as Lord were profoundly changed. Fishermen dropped their nets, their careers, their life as they knew it to follow after him. Tax collector's hearts were changed from greedy to generous. Outcasts were restored. The broken were healed.

In our day, many Christians consider it enough to make a profession of faith. We check the salvation box off the list and move on the to the next thing. We live as though we can tack Christ on to our lives like an accessory to an outfit. We separate our lives into segments with things of God in one place and everything else separate. What we don't realize is that Christ is the only thing. Knowing Christ isn't something we add to our lives, he is our life. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." Colossians 1:15-18

Christ is everything. This is why the best goal is to seek to know him and desire him above all else. Scripture promises "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13). So what does it mean to seek after Christ? It means to know and understand who he is and what he came to do. It is to see that all of Scripture points to him. It is to realize that he is the promised Rescuer, Redeemer, and King who came to restore what was broken by the Fall. It is to believe that he came to live the life we could not live and to die the death we deserved. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

We were created to be in union with God and are incomplete without him. Without Christ, we live restless lives; never satisfied and always empty. When we seek to know him with all our heart, we realize that he is all we've ever wanted and all we've ever needed. We realize that everything else in life pales in comparison to him. The things we once loved and pursued are revealed as false substitutes and cheap lovers. The more we know Christ, the more we desire to be in his presence. Our heart then resonates with David's when he wrote, "One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple" (Psalm 27:4).

For the Christian, seeking after Christ far outranks everything else. Compared to knowing Christ, all else is as rubbish. Instead of Christ being on the sidelines of our life, relegated to Sundays, he becomes our everything. And the more we seek him the more of our life becomes his.

True change happens in the presence of Christ. When Moses stood in the before God on that holy mountain, he returned to the people with his face radiant and bright. We too can't help but be transformed from being in the presence of our Savior. The more we know him, love him, desire him, the more we reflect him. The more we seek after him, the more we become like him. Our desires change. Our wants change. Our priorities change. We change.

Making resolutions for the new year is about wanting to see change in our lives. The greatest change occurred at the cross where Christ took on our sin, was separated from the Father, suffered and died on our behalf. The curtain in the temple tore in two signifying that the veil that separated us from God was no more. Christ fulfilled what we could not do. His righteousness became ours. His sacrifice brought us forgiveness. This is the change we needed most. And because of that change, we can come into the presence of God unashamed and with great confidence. Because of Christ, we have been brought from death to life.

This is profound change.

Are you seeking a change in your life this year? Seek after Christ. Desire to know him. Saturate your mind and heart with the truths about who he is and what he has done. Ponder these things in your heart. Dwell on his amazing grace. Be humbled in his presence. Ask him to show you his glory that you might reflect that glory to the world.

The reality is, more than we need to stop a bad habit or organize our life, we need to know Christ. Like those in Scripture who knew Christ, when we seek him, we too will be changed. This goal--to know and desire Christ--is all transforming. And those other goals on our list--they can't help but be changed too. Because when we know Christ and desire him above all things, it changes everything.