Ten Resolutions American Christians Should Make for 2018

It’s a hopeful time of year, at least on paper.

During the Christmas season, Christians celebrate the hope of the Messiah and the ways he will bring relief, freedom, and peace. The hope of Christmas invites us to participate in the creation of a more peaceful, just world.

As the new year begins, our hope may shift to personal resolutions. This most often takes the form of a post-holiday sweets purge with a diet likely to fail (sorry! but you already knew that, didn’t you?) or other noble but vague resolutions like “be better” (unfortunately pretty worthless as a goal due to lack of specificity).

As 2018 begins, American Christians should resolve to cultivate virtues that will help us better live out our greatest calling: love. This is what many of us claim is the underlying reason for why we do the religious or spiritual things we do, right? To express love for God and for what God loves—neighbor and enemy alike.

Virtues may be my habits but ought to ultimately assist me as a social creature, enabling me to be a good citizen, good friend, good caretaker of the earth, and so on. So which virtues—habits of character—will best facilitate the kind of love to which God calls us? The following ten are a good place to start. Let’s resolve to cultivate these virtues in 2018:

1. The virtue of responsibility. Christians, let’s be less entitled. Let’s not confuse “protecting my rights” with “being cruelly self-centered and scared.” Let’s think less individually and more collectively, recognizing how the ripples of our choices impact (and in some cases hurt) others. Let’s be less deliberately ignorant or evasive. Let’s not avoid topics that make us anxious when the suffering of others is at stake. Let’s be more aware of our responsibility to others backed by the will to act upon that awareness. Less “not my problem” and more “how can I participate in the solving of what is definitely a problem?” Less “that’s just the way it is” and more “I refuse to accept the status quo.” Less “well I didn’t cause their suffering” and more “it’s suffering, period, so how can I help?”

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Why Christians Should Speak Less About Rights

“They can’t do that; I have a right…”

Replace “they” with an enemy, substitute the encroachment of your choice for “that”, and finish the sentence how you like. This template for a common lament can be enfleshed in myriad ways. Many of which do not seem to mirror the way of Jesus.

It’s not that Christians should not care about others’ safety, freedom, or dignity. But the language of rights, while potentially a mechanism for care and protection and respect and arguably a legal necessity, is too often co-opted by persons speaking out of a sense of entitlement, self-centeredness, and anxiety. Christians can do better.

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