Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Greatest Commitment — Cut Two Ways

My alarm went off at 5:45 this morning (an hour and fifteen minutes before normal). When it did, my wife and I got out of bed and, with as much excitement as could be mustered at that time of the morning, headed for the computer. You see, at 6 A.M. Central time, one of my closest friends was going to be making the greatest physical commitment of his life across an ocean from us… and, through the blessings of technology, we were blessed to be able to see it.

As he and his new wife were partaking in their ceremony, I was struck once again by how similar the great commitment they were undertaking was to the greatest of all commitments. For they were pledging their lives, their hearts, their focus, and their dreams to one another… for the rest of their lives.

For the last few decades we have lived in a society that no longer sees marriage in this light. One out of every two marriages now ends in divorce within the first ten years. It is not uncommon today to see people in their thirties or forties living in their second or third marriages. Therefore, it should be no surprise that people look at their commitment to Christ with the same disjointedness as they do their commitment to their marriage.

It is customary for people to talk about how they have “grown apart” in their marriages. What this really means is: “I went my way and he/she didn’t come with me.” Every marriage that fails is because one (or both) parties were more concerned with their own desires and pursuits than they were the relationship with their spouse; and for many, the words in the vows they utter on their wedding day are only that: words, having no true meaning or lasting impact.

The reality is, when those marriage vows are uttered, and the words, “until death do us part,” are proclaimed, there is an oath that has been made that you are going to remain with that individual until death comes to one of you. Not, “until I get tired of you,” or, “until I find someone I like better,” this commitment is intended and designed to be everlasting.

This is the same level of commitment that one is making to Christ when the Gospel is obeyed. The church is described as the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:9). Therefore, when I commit myself to Christ through belief, repentance, confession, and immersion in water; when I solidify that oath by the acceptance of his blood for the remission of my sins; I have made a vow that I will be faithful to him and serve him the rest of my life (Rev. 2:10). Just as with marriage, it is not a relationship that can be built on selfishness, but selflessness (1 John 4:7-5:3).

It is also interesting to note the style of commitment necessary is the same in marriage and Christianity. The marriage vows often use such phrases as: “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” Such is the same commitment we make to Christ: that we will remain with him through thick and thin, in joy or struggle, in life or death (Phi. 1:20-22; 4:11-13).

There can be no doubt that the greatest physical commitment (marriage) and the greatest spiritual commitment (Christianity) both carry the same basic principle: the selfless willingness to make the other party the core of one’s focus. Yet, these two commitments are not mutually exclusive, for when we are willing to make the full spiritual commitment Christ requires, we will be equally able to make the physical commitment marriage requires (Eph. 5:21-32). How committed are you to both Christ and your marriage?

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A Poem about Commentaries

(It’s an odd topic, I know. But I think today’s poem makes an important point about the way we approach and use commentaries in our studies and preaching. God bless you as you delve into his word!)

A Poem about Commentaries

Adam B. Cozort

I searched high and low desiring to find the books that were written by man,

So that I might know what God’s Word had said and learn it the best that I can.

So I read through works of men of great fame with volumes both thick and thin,

Trying to see what they would say about the book God had given to men.

 

But with all my reading I noticed a change in the way I approached all these books.

For some I was constantly reaching and others I gave dirty looks.

I knew what I wanted to get from those books as I started to teach other men;

I wanted the writers who thought like me, but could put it better with pen.

 

So it was with great pride that I stood up to speak and said what I wanted to say,

I then pointed out, with a quote and a shout, what great men saw it my way.

Needless to say, I was pleased with myself and I thought others should be too.

For those who had such writers agree with them I was convinced would probably be few.

 

But what happened next was so unexpected I almost gave up then and there,

For a kind-hearted brother told me that my opinion and God’s did not square.

So I went to the Bible intending to find the evidence to prove me right.

Yet, all that I found, when I took God’s word down, was that I was the one in the plight.

 

You see, what had happened was I had become more concerned with the thoughts of men;

And I failed to acknowledge the greatest book first, for it came from God’s mind through man’s pen.

So now I still read the books of wise men, yet through the many volumes I plod,

I look not so much at whether they have agreed with me, but whether we have agreed with God.

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“Dad, I don’t want to play outfield!”

My two older boys are playing baseball this spring and both are really enjoying it. However, for my oldest it has been an experience in growth of character and patience. You see, he moved up into a new age bracket this year. He is now one of the youngest players on the team. Whereas in years past he has been among the biggest and most talented on the team, this year he is the shortest, far from the fastest, and not the most developed technically.

Therefore, it was with sadness a couple of weeks ago that he was told he would be playing in the outfield for the most part this year. For young kids, being told to play the outfield is like being told to stand in the corner and watch everyone else play. In their minds, it is the same as being told you are not as good or useful as other players on the team. However, such could not be further from the truth.

I tried to explain to my son that every position is there for a reason and has value, and without someone in that position it would be impossible to win the game; but he just couldn’t see it… until the first ballgame. He started the game in right field, and part of his responsibility was to back up first base on throws across the infield. After two plays backing up the position correctly (which kept runners from advancing, and, in turn, scoring) he looked at me and said that he didn’t think right field was so bad after all. He finally saw the value in it.

The exact same lesson needs to be learned within the church as it pertains to roles and responsibilities. Paul discusses the various gifts and abilities Christians have in Romans 12:4-8. There are things that some members of the body of Christ can do for which I am not equipped and vice versa. Understanding such is the essence of being able to function as the body of Christ.

It must be understood that “all members have not the same office” (Vs. 4). We all work together as a team, as “members one of another” (Vs. 5), and we all have value in our given areas. Just as with a baseball team, where everyone does not have to be the biggest or the fastest to have great value, so it is with us.

All of us may not be capable of delivering a sermon from the pulpit, leading a song, or teaching a Bible class, but that by no means insinuates that we have no value. For that card sent, that call to the sick, those words of encouragement, that food for the grieving, or that invitation to the lost soul is of just as great a value as all of the other works that are done, and it serves to complete the functions of the body.

While my son has learned a good life lesson on what it means to be a part of a team and to do his job to the best of his ability; the same lessons also need to be applied to our lives as Christians so that we can be fully effective for the cause of Christ. Let us never downplay or demean the usefulness and value of a child of God simply because they are not doing the same things we are. Let us instead lift them up and encourage them to further develop their strengths and be thankful for all they do for the cause of Christ.

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