New year, new you?

We’re now ten days into the new year. There’s something about a new year that excites us isn’t there? The possibility of a fresh start, with new possibilities and opportunities. And yet not a lot has changed. Just days into the new year a suicide bombing in Kabul killed at least 20 and injured many more. On the same day a young Japanese man was murdered in Ireland, the victim of a random attack after he took a different route home from work. On Sunday night, a car bomb in Syria left 25 dead. Closer to home, a man who had £50,000 raised for him after claiming he rushed to the aid of victims of the Manchester bombing, admitted stealing a purse from a lady as she lay injured. In Northern Ireland, an MP has been suspended after a social media post which appeared to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the terrorist massacre of 10 men on their way home from work.

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And yet while it’s always tempting to point the finger at others, if we look at ourselves we have to acknowledge that we haven’t really changed either. Even if we’ve made a big effort to turn over a new leaf, statistics show that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. And even if we manage to beat the statistics, a few new resolutions can’t really change our in-built selfishness, anger, negativity or self-righteousness. Advances in technology and better education can’t mask the fact that humanity is fundamentally broken. And that includes each of us.

Now that might seem a negative note on which to start a new year. But if you go to the doctor and are diagnosed with cancer, you wouldn’t tell the doctor ‘Don’t be so negative’. Instead you would say: ‘Tell me what I have to do!’

The gospel of Jesus Christ is fundamentally ‘good news’ – it’s what the word means. But before we can see the good news for what it is, we must be willing to listen to the bad news. According to the Bible, humanity isn’t just sick but dead (Ephesians 2v1). And yet the reason the Bible was written is because there is a God who raises the dead. Don’t start another year trying to pretend that things are better than they are. Face up to the bad news, so that you can hear the good.

Published in Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, 11th January 2018