Thursday, December 29, 2011

Radical Commitment

What is your attitude toward obedience?
a.         I’ll do what I want.  I don’t care what God wants me to do.
b.        If God will give me what I want first, then I’ll give Him what He wants.
c.         I’ll give God what He wants first, with faith that He’ll give me what I want.
d.        I’ll give God what He wants, regardless of what He gives me.

I think most of us hover between c and d, right?  Well, I do anyway.  The problem is, though, that God isn’t asking us to “kinda, sorta, on my terms” commit to following Him.  He wants 100% commitment.
“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’
 “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’        He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’“But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’“ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’
“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.’
“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”  Luke 9:57-62
That’s rough!  Are we sure we’re ready for that kind of commitment?  What would that look like in someone’s everyday life?  Can you picture it?

It’s sort of hard to picture isn’t it?  What with daily life getting in the way and all.  But try this:  Picture what the life of a committed Olympic athlete would look like?

That’s a little easier isn’t it?  Check out what some committed athletes do everyday.  All of them say they get up early, anywhere from 4:30 am to 6:30am; then breakfast.  But those are pretty much the easiest parts of their days.  One runner starts her training at 8:30 am (after she’s already taken her dog for a 20 minute walk) by meeting “up with a group of elite runners, for practice, which lasts anywhere from two to four hours and 10 to 24 miles.”  Which she follows with an ice-cold bath.  (that’s what I said!)  Then she does weight training and then runs another four to six miles.  She says she hates parts of what she does, the ice cold bath, specifically, but running is something that she’s committed to.
Here’s a typical day for a water polo player:
“7:30 Time for weights; we lift four days a week, two for upper body and two for lower.
9:00 After weights, a strength circuit; we use stability balls, medicine balls, a slide board, a Spinning bike and wooden boxes to jump on and off of. It's usually about seven exercises, and it's never the same thing twice. By the end of this session, I'm already tired--and we haven't even gotten in the pool yet.9:25 In the pool for a freestyle workout. Through a mix of sprints and longer-distance swims, we cover between 3,000 and 4,000 meters.10:30 We bust out the stretch cords and medicine ball to do a leg circuit in the water. Final drill: Drag a teammate, who is dead weight, across the pool.10:50 Done with first workout.
1:30 Out the door for second practice.2:00 Warm up: Do some laps, throw the ball a bit.2:30 Technique-oriented practice, which sounds easy, but it isn't. If we're working on counter-attacking skills, we'll be swimming back and forth for 90 minutes straight.5:00 Done for the day. I may or may not shower; after being in the water for more than three hours. I'm sick of being wet.”
Now that’s radical commitment!  But do you know any Christians with that kind of commitment to serving God?  People who are willing to get up early, do things they don’t necessarily enjoy doing, training, working, and exhausting themselves for God until the end of the day?  Paul comes to mind, or any of the disciples for that matter.  Even though David, Daniel and Moses weren’t technically Christians, they definitely shared a radical commitment to God.

Some would say that that kind of commitment isn’t possible any more.  We have to have “real” jobs and can’t just spend all day witnessing.  What do you think?  Was being completely committed to God easier during Bible times?  Does God have a different set of standards for us?

You know, like lesson plans:  “Lillianne will complete her sabbath school lesson study 80% of the time with 75% accuracy, with only two verbal or nonverbal reminders.”  Folks during Bible times were responsible for 100% commitment but since life’s harder and busier now, we’re only responsible for 75 to 80% commitment.

I don’t think so!  Do you know that there are people today who are totally committed to Fantasy Football, video games, basketball, or any number of other things.  So what’s stopping you and me from being completely committed to Christ?

Good question.  In the early 1900’s, Lenin set down four “totals” that would be evident in people who were totally committed to communism.  They were:  “total acceptance of the cause, total dedication to the cause, total discipline in the cause, and total action for the cause.”  Those seemed to have worked for Lenin, for a while anyway.  But look at them again, those for “totals” could work for almost anything, couldn’t they?   A committed Christian will display total acceptance of the mission of Jesus; totally dedication to the mission of Jesus; total discipline toward the mission of Jesus and total action for the mission of Jesus. 

Do you accept the word of God as the central force in your life?  Are you totally dedicated to seeing the Gospel preached?  Do you have the discipline to incorporate the Word of God into every aspect of your life?  Are you willing to do something everyday to share the love of Jesus with someone?

That actually sounds like something I could do!  What do you think?

Still not convinced?  Consider this:  Without a radical commitment to Jesus, what will happen when the trials, tribulations and general tough stuff comes along?  Aha!  That’s why we need to be fully committed now – to keep us steady in present and future suffering.  If we don’t have Jesus to hang onto, chances are excellent that we won’t make it!
In his book, Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn talked about how he hung on during the awful interrogations that he endured at the hands of the Soviets:
“So what is the answer?  How can you stand your ground when you are weak and sensitive to pain, when people you love are still alive, when you are unprepared?  What do you need to make you stronger than the interrogator and the whole trap?  From the moment you go to prison you must put your cozy past firmly behind you.  At the very threshold, you must say to yourself: ‘My life is over, a little early to be sure, but there’s nothing to be done about it.  I shall never return to freedom.  I am condemned to die—now or a little later.  But later on, in truth, it will be harder, and so the sooner the better.  I no longer have any property whatsoever.  For me those I love have died, and for them I have died.  From today on, my body is useless and alien to me.  Only my spirit and my conscience remain precious and important to me.’“Confronted by such a prisoner, the interrogator will tremble.  Only the man who has renounced everything can win that victory.”
Sound familiar?  “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:33, and “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.   But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” Philippians 1:20-23

Let’s make a radical commitment today to God’s word, God’s will and Jesus Christ so that when troubles and suffering come, we will be able to stand and not fall.

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