New Year’s Resolutions & Earning Salvation

It’s the beginning of February and most of us have probably already broken those New img_4018Year’s resolutions that we made in such good faith a month ago. Maybe it was to eat healthier, to give up sweets, to exercise more, to stay off social media, to pray more, to waste less money, to save more money… It could have been anything. But yet, it probably hasn’t lasted even to the end of the first month.

My goal for the new year was to waste less, be it money, food, resources, time. I chose it call it a goal instead of a resolution because I wanted it to be something I could progress toward through the year instead of fail at right away. I’m not sure that worked, but I’m still striving for this goal.

But what happens when our New Year’s Resolutions, like eating better and cutting out sugar, start to confuse us about what makes us ‘a good person’? Our current culture magnifies our diets, our bodies and healthy living to such a degree that they start to be the rulers by which we measure ourselves. While I am at least grateful that our culture is now celebrating healthy bodies and healthy body image, I’m also concerned about how much of our personal worth is wrapped up in our physical bodies.

We want to earn our ‘goodness;’ when complimented on our weight-loss, our cooking skills, our arm muscles or our marathon time, we respond with something that puts our ‘goodness’ in perspective, the long road it took to learn to love our bodies and the struggle to overcome our health issues or our personal hurdles. There’s nothing wrong with this– if anything, it can be inspiring to others to know that amazing changes  can be made in our lives and we are not permanently condemned to our current situation.

But the thing is, we can’t earn our righteousness. Keeping our resolutions doesn’t earn us any righteousness points when we meet our savior. Even when our resolutions are spiritual resolutions, about spending more time with Jesus or giving more of our time to ministry or increasing our tithes, these actions are not enough to earn us salvation.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

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Gordon Ramsay Doesn’t Say Sorry

Gordon Ramsay, of Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares fameI’ve been watching my fair share of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares lately (thank you, Netflix, for helping me indulge my cinematic gluttony). Two things have become clear:

1. Gordon knows how to cook.
2. He expects the best from everyone.

Gordon Ramsay is in incredibly polarizing television personality, famous for his incredibly high standards in cooking which he enforces with an iron fist. With twenty-two current restaurants to his name and another dozen that have run their course, he hosts multiple reality television shows which both challenge and develop their participants.

But he doesn’t exactly always do this nicely. The reason he is so polarizing is because of his methods– loud, abrasive and harsh. His shows have lots of shouting, a fair share of swearing (Netflix episodes are uncensored, by the way, so fair warning) and lots and lots of confrontation. I’ve really only ever been a fan of Kitchen Nightmares, where he travels around to failing restaurants (there are seasons in both the UK and US) and tries to turn them around. He generally does remarkably well, with most of the restaurants resurrecting on the back of his changes and relaunch.

But these renewals are not easy or comfortable, and Gordon isn’t easy on the restaurateurs with whom he works. He is terribly difficult to impress (or even satisfy, really) and tolerates no laziness whatsoever. With uncomfortable frequency, the chefs serving embarrassingly poor entrees question Ramsay’s authority and try to disregard his opinions. But, without fail, his opinion is gold and, when they follow his advice, it proves accurate with restaurant-goers.

But why am I even bringing this up? What on earth does Gordon Ramsay have to do with worshiping and glorifying God?

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