There are issues with commitment every where you look. For years, I have heard it preached from the pulpit that the percentage of divorced persons is the same in the church as outside it. The fact that living together is so popular and common law marriage even exists tells us that there is a problem at hand. Put a sign-up sheet out at your church this Sunday, and you will find that there is an issue with commitment. Each of us struggles with this. I struggle with it, and the desire to not commit goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and mankind’s first sin. The problem is not a new one, but one that is innate.
Think about Israel. The Old Testament speaks to their lifestyle of non-commitment. They were with God, then they wanted to do their own thing, they were with God, then they wanted to do their own thing, they were with God… Our lives are not much different. On the surface we feel as though we are much better than those stubborn Hebrews, but are we Israel on the inside?
There is a passage in Luke 9 that really addresses the issue of commitment; almost harshly it seems. Verses 57-62 reads, “As they were traveling on the road someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go!’ Jesus told him, ‘Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.’ Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘first let me go bury my father.’ But he told him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’ Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'” We have an issue with commitment in these verses. Three different people say they are willing to follow Jesus, but each has an excuse as to when that leadership will start. They are not willing to pay the cost.
When you examine these Scriptures, Jesus does not sound like a charismatic man rallying troops for a battle. No, He knows that He only needs those who are committed for the task that lies ahead. He points out that following Him will mean no guarantee of basic shelter (verse 58), it may mean giving up your family (verse 60), and ultimately requires that you begin immediately and do not look back (verse 62). This is no sugar coated, feel good sermon from Jesus. He is addressing their deep issue of commitment. The three people in this passage made excuses to the person they called ‘Lord.’ The definition of Lord denotes authority, control, or power over someone. They were saying Jesus was their master, but their lives were not reflecting His control.
Wow. The Holy Spirit immediately begins to smack me around at this point. Do we not call Jesus our ‘Lord?’ We sing as much on Sunday mornings. Yet, is He truly the Master of our lives? Do we make excuses to Him? Oh, I am afraid we do. I know that I do. “Jesus, I can not give that much this week. You know I had to buy birthday gifts for the kids.” “I am so tired this morning. I have been working all week. One Sunday doesn’t hurt anything.” “I really should read my Bible. I’ve been falling behind, but that new show comes on at 8:00 p.m. I’ll read tomorrow.” Sure, we do not speak these words to Jesus. No, we speak ‘Lord’ to Him. It is our lives that speak the truth, however, and our lives often speak excuses.
I was never hit so hard by this reality as when Jason came rushing into my office one week several months ago. I could immediately tell that I was about to receive something he had just read. He was reading through the book “Radical” by David Platt and was constantly being blown away by the way the Holy Spirit was challenging him. I was the beneficiary of these joyous moments, and I loved seeing him grow. “Let me read you something,” he said. He proceeded to tell me of a missionary who had taken his wife and infant child into an unreached and remote part of the world where the Gospel had never been. The villagers killed and cannibalized each of them. Later, a second missionary family came to that small village. As they taught, the villagers remembered that they had heard these things before. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, that village came to Christ. We immediately say, “Praise God,” and I do praise Him for that. Yet, I was crying great tears of brokenness by the time Jason finished reading me the excerpt. You see, I do not mind being the second missionary family, but I do not want to be the first. I was deeply saddened because my heart spoke my non-commitment. I did not want to die for Christ in a village that no one got saved. I wanted to live/die for a village that came to Christ. Yet, God used that first missionary family for an eternal impact, and it cost them everything.
I am wrestling with commitment. Maybe you are too. I want to be more committed today than I ever have been before. I want Jesus to know that He is my Lord. I want to follow Him every where and any where without excuse; even if it costs me everything. To get to that point, I know He has to be my Master. I am praying for you. Please pray for me. May God see in our lives and not just in our words that He has complete control of us; that He really is our Lord. Blessings to you this week as you seek to live for Him.