Commitment is in short supply in our world–but C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity describes something different otherworldly: “Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you…No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think are wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.” There is hope for a life that instead of cautious is…
COMMITTED—(Luke 2:33-35) 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Simeon doesn’t stop with praise; he gets to the heart of this Messiah’s practicality. He shows that God is committed even until the end. Referencing Isaiah 8 and 28, we get reminded that Jesus arrival was foretold—a picture painted—Isaiah 8 tells us that “and he will be a sanctuary, but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall…” Stop and think about it, Simeon knew in seeing Jesus that he would be a lightning rod—a dividing point. Where followers would be burnt at the stake, eaten by lions, where valedictorians are barred from using the name of Jesus, where Jesus can be called good, but never God. Yet, God knew in a world at war with its creator, that each person would have to define for themselves what they are committed too.Years ago in the magazine Leadership Dale Hays heard a Haitian pastor illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable: A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.
After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail. The Haitian pastor’s conclusion: “If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.” Dale A. Hays, Leadership, Vol. X, No. 3 (Summer, 1989), p. 35.
It is time to pull out the nails of our old life! Remember, Christ took the nails for us living a sinless life, coming into our history, and then taking the nails for us, one after another. It is there, just like the baby Jesus was for Simeon, that we find our hope of peace–where God allows all his promises to be fulfilled in Christ, through Christ, and by the hand of Christ. From creation to the final second of time itself, Jesus is the follow-thru of God on our behalf.
Let me get real with you for a second…I bet some of you are sitting out here thinking. I rather be working on a car, rather be sitting next to a pool, rather be taking a Sunday afternoon nap. I’m not really church material, not really someone whom God would use. I want to leave you with a perspective from Stacy Edwards who wrote Devotions from the Front Porch.
Sometimes God calls people to do things that they may think would be better left to the professionals. The Bible, however, is full of DIYers. Moses didn’t consider himself to be qualified to speak to the Pharaoh, but he did. Even Paul admitted that he wasn’t the most eloquent speaker, yet he preached the gospel everywhere he went. Gideon didn’t feel like a warrior, but God called him to be one.
Scripture is full of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things with just a little courage and the willingness to obey. It wasn’t a seasoned mother, but a virgin girl chosen to raise the Son of God. It wasn’t theologians but fishermen whom Christ called to follow him.
Don’t wait until you feel qualified to do what God is calling you to do. If he wanted a professional, he would have chosen one! A willing and teachable DIYer can do more for God than someone who thinks they already know everything.
God doesn’t need you to be perfect—he needs to you to pliable—he doesn’t need you to be a master of all things, but to be willing in all things to serve your Master. I think we would all agree we are called by God to make disciples—to love others—but without a commitment—we will find that instead of doing ministry that changes lives—we become a monument that sits empty.