Commitment is such a huge word with so many varied implications to it. We often make commitments in life that we fail to carry out. I.e. You set Mondays to clean your house. You make mowing your grass on Saturday a priority. You vow to work out for thirty minutes each day. These are examples everyday commitments that are made and broken with regularity given the conditions around us.
It is from this word commitment that we can see its dubious and deceitful brother obligation. While obligation in itself is not a bad thing, it’s what lies rooted in it at the core that concerns me.
So, for the sake of the argument, let’s define commitment and then obligation.
Commitment: to pledge or obligate oneself (Specifically to someone or something), ((my interpretation)).
Obligation: The act of binding oneself by a moral, social, or legal tie.
It sounds pretty much self-explanatory and you’re probably wondering where exactly I am going with this. So, without further ado and unnecessary word plays, let’s dive into what I feel is the single greatest thorn in church. Obligatory commitment
What does that even mean?
Think about the time you became born again. The feelings of Euphoria and Joy were like a new drug. You just couldn’t get enough of church. You couldn’t wait for the weekend to come or Wednesday night (for those who know what that is) just so you could go to church. You signed up for every single committee or ministry you could possible fit into your schedule and you plunged headlong into the oblivion of faithful service.
Then, one day the luster starts to fade, the feelings of elation fade away un- expectantly and before you know you are caught in obligatory attendance. There are a million things that you could be doing elsewhere and your mind tells you that you should be doing. Soon the appeal of the church has lost its beauty and the thrill of seeking God has been removed to the part of your heart reserved for faithful attendance regardless of personal feelings.
Some of you will know exactly what I am talking about.
I brought this up in Sunday school with our youth and like an arrow straight to the bulls’ eye. I nailed it dead center. I asked them how many of them were there because their parents made them come or if they came because they are committed to God’s house. If we are honest what used to be a driving force of great joy in coming to church has turned into nothing more than obligation.
Commitment invokes within us such a sense of honor that we will set aside something of ourselves to give something to others. It teases the mind with feelings of self-sacrifice. While on the other hand obligation seems more duty like because we made an agreement. If we could break that agreement we would do so in a heartbeat. This gives the idea of something we are forced to do and not something we feel any great joy in doing.
Like the youth I want to ask you, what if Jesus had failed in His commitment to us. What if He said, Nah, I’m done I’m tired of your mocking; I’m tired of your questions. I am so tired of your twisting my words, not to mention the constant begging and pleading for healing. All you want is for me to feed you whenever you need it; heal you when doctors can’t help. No, I’m done. You are not worth it.
Seriously consider that question, don’t just glance over it. It’s a very serious question.
I know in my own life I have been on both sides of this coin. So I’ve examined it in my heart and I’ve come up with this conclusion for me personally. Maybe you can identify with me or maybe not.
My sense of commitment is usually tied to the amount of praise I receive for my work.
Before you say that is not me; ask yourself if everything you do is truly and only for His Glory.
That special you sang in church that everybody said was great; what if they hadn’t? Would you sing again?
Those Sunday school lessons you teach because you felt called of God to do so; if they never responded with anything other than bored stares, would you continue to teach it?
That sermon you spent all week laboring over carefully outlining your points with scripture to back you up, what if no one responded when you gave the altar call? Would you continue to study as diligently?
That blog you have spent months entertaining thoughts and ideas about and you finally post it and not one single person likes it or comments on it, would you continue to blog?
The husband/wife you committed your life to, has it turned to obligation now that the fires of lust of passion have given way to the everyday normal routines?
The kids you could not wait to have and are now starting to show personality flaws in their youth, are you a committed dad/mom who loves them in the midst of rebellion and broken hearts?
You see commitment moves beyond emotion and says I’m going to run this race before me regardless of the spectators in the stands. Regardless of how many cheers I receive, regardless if I’m met at each milestone with a cool drink of water.
Obligation to run a race results in shin splints and muscle spasms. You will run only because you have to and in your desire to just get it done and over with, you will hurt yourself in the process. There is no other joy than just being done with the race.
Committed people will reach beyond themselves to Christ who committed Himself fully to us. They will continue the race with joy even though they might be laughing through tremendous pain. They will run with honor even though they may have lost every friend in the world to do so. They will run with endurance long after the body says stop because they are not in it to win it, they are in it to see Christ!
I purposefully have not put a scripture reference in this blog until now because I wanted to stir your heart to examine your motivation in serving. If you have left your first love, run to Jesus and let Him renew you. He is so faithful and even though we feel there is no one who cares, He has never left the stands. He is and will always be your biggest fan. He has already run this race for you and for me. He has already won the prize we all get to share in. He ran entirely with love and joy and commitment to you and to me!
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus ran for the JOYset before Him. The patience spoken of in vs. 1 means Constancy, which is the same as committed.
We are not defined by how many commitments we have made, or by how many obligations we have fulfilled. We are defined by the commitments we made that Christ was our Joy, by the obligations we kept because the prize was Jesus and not applause.
I’m hid with Christ!