Matthew 16:24-27 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” NASU
When I preached from this text regarding Commitment and identified it as the Church’s Lost Message someone asked, “Roy, do you really believe that?” YES, I DO and I’ll gladly explain what I believe about commitment, its importance and I believe you will understand why I consider it so vital for today and how I could conclude that it has largely been lost in our preaching today.
We have a world full of people SEARCHING. Some are searching for themselves. Some are searching for peace. Some are searching for fulfillment. But people are searching even if they do not realize they are searching. The Church has the message of hope and the answer to the societal problems existing today and is, too often, keeping it under wraps and treating it like it is a message that only the elite club members can access. People are trying to find the REAL THEM and in their desperation, they have adopted many ideas, beliefs, practices, and religious trappings that are producing no peace and affording no real identity.
I heard a preacher tell a story about a student going to his professor and telling the professor that he was going to take a semester off from school. The professor dutifully asked why and the student informed him that he needed time to FIND HIMSELF. He said, “Professor, I am tired of playing the societal roles that have been forced on me by friends, family, church, school, etc. I am tired of trying to be what they expect me to be and I need time to peel away all the socially prescribed identities and find the REAL ME.” The professor paused a moment and asked, “Just suppose that after you peel away each of those socially prescribed identities or selves you discover you are an onion?” Think about that. What happens when you peel away all the skins of an onion? What is left? NOTHING because an onion is nothing more than the sum of its skins. The REAL YOU cannot be not found in philosophy it is found in CHRIST! Too many are hoping to find themselves while God wants us to BECOME what He has created. The only way to create an identity and find meaning to life is COMMITMENT. More specifically, Commitment to Christ. Jesus is our ULTIMATE REALITY!
Years ago, I read the account of the famous tightrope walker named Charles Blondin, a Frenchman who in the late 1890’s decided he would walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. There were ten thousand screaming people cheering him on or watching to see if he would fall to his death. The day came and he inched his way from the Canadian side to the U.S. side of the falls and the crowd erupted shouting his name, “Blondin, Blondin, Blondin…” He reached the other side, raised his arms, and said, “I am Blondin, do you believe in me?” They screamed, YES and began chanting, WE BELIEVE, WE BELIEVE, WE BELIEVE. He quieted the crowd again and said, “I’m going to walk back across but this time I’m going to do it with someone on my back, do you believe I can do that?” The crowd was delirious shouting WE BELIEVE, WE BELIEVE. He raised his hands again and asked, “Who will be that person?” TOTAL SILENCE fell on the crowd. Finally, one man stepped out of the crowd and climbed on the shoulders of the tightrope walker and for the next three and one-half hours, they inched their way across the Falls. Ten thousand people shouted WE BELIEVE but one man demonstrated FAITH. Believing is not simply saying, “I accept the facts” it is GIVING YOURSELF into the hands of the one whom you declare you believe. BELIEVING involves COMMITMENT!
I believe that one of the most alarming and serious issues in the church today is that it is filled with believers it is seriously devoid of Committed Disciples. I find believers everywhere and that is good, but I wonder how many who believe or claim to believe are truly COMMITTED? I contend that you could likely go to the local bar and nudge the guy next to you on the stool asking, “Do you believe in Jesus?” and he’d probably say yes. That’s the problem. Many know about God and believe there is a God and that Jesus is real, but that does not make them Committed Disciples of the Lord. The thing that makes a person a Disciple isn’t just believing the Right Stuff it is COMMITMENT. It is turning your total life over to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is becoming a TOTALLY COMMITTED DISCIPLE of the Kingdom.
Commitment, in my view, is a serious problem and one of the reasons Jesus asked in Luke 18:8, “…when the Sone of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” It is not enough to say, LORD, LORD we must fully surrender our hearts, minds, and lives to Him. I want to say more on this subject so I will pause here and take this up in the next devotional. God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire.