|Vol. 13 No. 8 August 2011||
David R. Kenney
In Patrick Morley’s book, Devotions for the Man in the Mirror, he touches on a point that I have often thought about relating to commitment. He writes: “Over the past few decades, many of us started off on the wrong foot with Jesus Christ. It is the proposition that Jesus can be ‘Savior’ without being ‘Lord.’ It is the idea that one can ‘add’ Christ, but not ‘subtract’ sin. Many of us have merely added Christ to our lives as another interest in an already busy and otherwise over-crowded schedule…” (13-14).
When my son was learning to walk, we would walk behind him with our arms stretched out like guardrails with hands at the ready to catch him if he stumbled. We would wobble behind him as he wobbled across the floor for the first times. Eventually, we did not need to follow behind him any longer in this fashion. Why? Because he learned to walk on his own. It would be an odd sight for me to walk behind him in that fashion now. In fact, if I did he would probably say, “Cut that out!”
When people first become Christians, they need mature Christians to walk beside them as I walked alongside my son ready to steady him if he stumbled. Just as babies learn to walk on their own as their bodies physically develop, so should new Christians be able to walk spiritually on their own. They ought to be able walk with Christ on their spiritual journey to live in the heavenly home with Him. They should not require the same level of “hand holding” from other Christians. Now, I am not speaking about needing encouragement. We all could use encouragement from fellow Christians — one of the reasons we assemble together. However, there comes a time when we ought to be able to stand and walk on our own. We ought to become the mature Christians walking with new converts as they start their spiritual journey. If not, then something is wrong and out of place just as if I was still following my 11-year-old son around as if he was 11 months old.
If a person is not maturing the way he should, then what might be the problem? Maybe he thought, as Morley suggests, that he accepted Jesus as his Savior but was not looking for a Lord. Perhaps, he needs to be reminded that Christianity is not just something one adds to his digital calendar when he can fit it in. Christianity is a transformation of one’s entire life (Romans 12:1-2). If our calendars are just too busy for worship and service in the church, then we need to clean our calendars! Perhaps, we need to be reminded that Jesus will not accept a life partially dedicated to Him! “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33 NKJV). “And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61-62). We need to remember that people are judging our commitment to Christ; they are watching us. Also, Jesus is judging our words, actions and our hearts. “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me”(Matthew 15:8). If you are able to do more for the Lord and His church, then do it! If you have to be asked to attend services, to participate in worship, to teach class or to get involved, then perhaps you are not maturing. Could this stem from a commitment problem? Jesus is both the Lord and Savior of mankind! Be fully committed and dedicated!
Remember growing up as a child, when you might be doing something you should not, and you would hear someone say, “Your mom is watching you?” That phrase was a guarantee for instant good behavior! It is always easier behaving when someone is watching. Such an attitude can also carry over into adult activities as well. Before Karen and I married, while working for a company called Stromberg-Carlson, one of my coworkers was always doing something other than work, until word passed through the ranks our supervisor was coming to our department. Then he was the model of efficiency.
It is possible for this attitude to carry over into our spiritual life as well. It is easy to put on our nice garments, sit in the assembly and sing with fellow Christians, bow our heads reverently during prayers, open the Bible for the sermon and sit quietly while the Lord’s Supper is observed. Yet, what about when none of our brothers and sisters in Christ are with us? What are we like when we are alone (even though we are never alone, as God always watches over us)?
The formation of Christian character is developed, not just when we are with other Christians, but when we are living it on our own, in the arena of everyday life. How we face both the blessings and challenges life provides is what molds and shapes us in the image of Christ. How we deal with the daily routine, and the challenges that can come with it, is what often determines the type of Christians we are.
A good illustration of this is found in the life of David. Remember when he was sent by his father Jesse to check on his brothers, as they were part of the forces mustered to deal with the threat of Goliath? There was righteous indignation on his part from the words of Goliath against Israel. He volunteered to face the giant in the name of the Lord, even when King Saul himself was afraid to do so. Saul was skeptical of his ability, and said to him, “You cannot go fight this Philistine. You are just a youth, and he has been a warrior since he was young” (1 Samuel 17:33). However, David spoke of his experience tending sheep and the threats that sometimes would come from a lion or bear. He told Saul, “Your servant has killed lions and bears; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God” (17:36). I imagine there was a lot of boring routine to tending sheep, taking them to pastures for feeding, water to quench their thirst, grassy areas to rest, etc., but what he learned from the routine helped him face the challenges of danger that threatened the flock’s survival, and now, what he had learned from everyday living would help him face the challenge of Goliath.
Spiritual growth does not just happen on Sundays, but on Mondays through Saturdays. It is not just when we are surrounded by fellow Christians that we should live the Christian life, but in the everyday routines, when only God is there to watch. How much a part our faith plays in the everyday aspects of our lives determines the part it will play in the challenges of our lives, which really defines who we are in Christ? The fellowship we enjoy on the Lord’s Day, and other times we are around fellow Christians, is wonderful, but who we really are spiritually is defined by how we live every day. What Paul encouraged slaves to do in the first century is still good advice for us in the twenty-first century. “Do not work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart” (Ephesians 6:6).
Look at everyday living as an opportunity for Christ. If He is an integral part of the everyday, He will be there as an integral part of your life when trials come your way. Then, the life Christ forms in you each day will make our time of fellowship that much sweeter. Is Christ a part of your everyday routine? “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord — you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).