Do you ever watch 'Gogglebox' on TV? Or, rather would you admit to watching it? Various couples and family groups comment on the same TV programmes. It's cheap television (I know) but it can be quite insightful. Recently the two sisters were discussing the political leaders Teresa May and Jeremy Corban. They both knew who Teresa May was, but one of the sisters asked 'Who is Jeremy Corban?' Now that either showed her complete ignorance or that she was asking a profound philosophical question. 'Who precisely is Jeremy Corban'?! I leave it up to you to decide which it was!
But turn the TV cameras around and look at yourself and what do you see? How do others see us? How does God see us? How do we see ourselves?
If you are a Christian believer how have things been for you in the past year? Have you made any marked progress in the Christian life? Have you turned away from sin and turned more to Christ? Have you become more like Jesus? When times have been hard and life tough, how has your faith sustained you? To be a Christian in church on Sunday is easy – but being a Christian during the week – that is much harder. We engage with others in our frontline but how does that engagement commend the Lord Jesus to them? Do our friends and work colleagues even know that we are a Christian?
I've recently been reading 2 Peter. It's one of the less-well-known books in the New Testament. But it has a great deal to say about living the Christian life; about following Christ in an unbelieving world; about growing in Christlikeness. What Peter says should help us as we look forward to the New Year. "Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love" (2 Peter 1.5-7).
And, importantly, at the end of the letter: "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and to the day of eternity" (2 Peter 3:18). Two things: "Make every effort", and "grow in grace and knowledge" of Jesus (our Lord and Saviour).
Those seem to be worthy aims for each one of us for the year ahead. To be secure in Christ. To be confident in Christ. To be trusting in Christ. And also being ready and willing to grow in our faith and to live a life that reflects the love of Christ in an unbelieving world. Yes, we will fail. Yes, we will fall into sin. Yes, we may be accused of hypocrisy.
But our aim, our intention is to follow Christ and to grow in holiness. Why? So that at the end of 2019 we will have become more like him. More Christ-like. More humble. To echo the words of John Newton: "I am not what I ought to be, not what I might be, not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be, [but] not what I once was".
This new year – aim to be more like Jesus!