Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Your People, My People

TALK ABOUT COMMITTED! Ruth sure exhibited that, for sure. (See Old Testament book Ruth chapters 1-4) She left family, friends, home, culture, livelihood all for the purpose of caring for her mother-in-law. Not her own mom, but her mother-in-law.

It's one thing to say you're committed to something, but true commitment is expressed in the cost we are willing to expend. What creature comforts, what personal preferences are we will to give up in order to accomplish that which we say we are committed to?

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to commitment. Personal commitment is one of the hallmarks of our faith, and yet I am saddened by how many of us allow our creature comforts and personal preferences take precedence over the faith we say we are committed to.

Have I left family, friends, home, culture and livelihood for the sake of the Gospel? I would like to say I would, but if push came to shove...? My commitment to following Jesus, the Messiah, must be more than just personal preference, it must be my conviction. It must be the non-negotiable of my life.

I do believe that when I practice that kind of commitment, then I can know the blessedness of living under the care of my Kinsman Redeemer. I know I am saved by my simple faith in the Savior, welcomed to glean in His gracious fields, and yet I believe we are called to more, like Ruth, than just following in the footsteps of the field workers. I believe the Lord calls us, and desires us to live under His roof, and to enjoy the fullness of His redemptive blessings. This is the blessing of commitment. Oh, that I may live that type of life.

I have been blessed in my life to have walked alongside people who have exhibited a life of commitment. Commitment to faith, to friends, to work. One such person was my dad, who God called home to heaven yesterday. He was not perfect, he was one who exhibited both commitment, and failure, but he was one who had the strength to return to that which he knew was the truth. He taught by his life the importance of commitment to family, to faith, to friends, to your stated responsibilities, and I am thankful for that legacy.

Thank you heavenly Father, for my father. I have been blessed.


Anonymous said...

It is not at all unusual for an AA sponsor to tell a new sponsee to avoid contact with their family as much as possible. Sometimes it is necessary to advise them to cut off contact altogether for various reasons. A bartender or a cocktail waitress obviously has to find a different occupation if they are going to remain sober for any length of time and so on. That kind of commitment is usually the result of realizing one’s very survival depends upon that kind of “separation.”

But in AA, we have a phrase called “white knuckling it” which is all about commitment while relying upon one’s own human ability. If the commitment is strong enough, they may be able to keep from drinking again because they realize their very survival depends upon not taking a drink, but they never develop a relationship with a higher power because that’s what the steps (if they are worked) do. They bring one closer and closer to God so that one can learn to lean on God instead of one’s self. People who are white knuckling it are often referred to as “dry drunks” because they are not drinking anymore, but they have a poor quality of sobriety. They rarely smile, snap people’s head’s off, and are just generally mean, nasty and cantankerous and proud. Kind of like the Pharisees in the Bible.

Ruth would have been anything but a dry drunk because her commitment stemmed from love and devotion to her mother-in-law and her husband’s people. I truly believe that Christians can choose between not sinning out of commitment and be proud and miserable (and in danger of stumbling over the cornerstone just like the Pharisees), or they can develop a personal relationship with Jesus (which inevitably results in falling in love with Him) and not sin out of humility, love and devotion. That to me is the difference between the old and the new covenant. In this new covenant, God writes his laws upon our hearts so that we follow him out of devotion rather than fear.

While wisdom may begin with the fear of the Lord, that is only the beginning. The more we get to know our savior, the more we can relax or “rest” in the Lord and enjoy the “blessed assurance” Christ offers those who believe.

I didn’t realize you had sermons on line and listened for the first time last night and in one of those sermons you started talking about the love letters you used to write your wife and making comparisons between that and how our relationship with God should be.

The early disciples gave up everything to follow Jesus. They were tortured and many of them suffered martyrs death. I honestly don’t think they could have endured all that out of pure commitment. I think it required passionate love and devotion. I don’t even think they had a choice at that point in their lives because by then, I believe their hearts belonged entirely to Christ.


Anonymous said...

P.S. I'm sorry about your father. One of the hardest thing I ever went through was losing my dad.


Pastor Randy said...

gentle dove,

Thank you for your good thoughts, and I hope you enjoyed the sermon. We just started to do this a couple of weeks ago. I am a little hesitant to have these sermons out there, but if they can bring encouragement to someone and help to build God's kingdom, then I am OK with that.

Thank you for your words of condolence as well.


Anonymous said...

I think it was Churchill that said that the best way to describe committed and merely a participant was to look at a eggs and bacon breakfast: The chicken was a participant, the pig was committed.

'Nuf said on that....

Praying for you and your family, Randy. Sorry to hear about your dad.