This is a question I’ve been pondering over quite often lately. What does it actually look like to be fully committed to God? A fully devoted disciple of Christ? To be “all in”?
I’ve had to honestly own up to the fact that my answer to this question was different just a couple of years ago when I was serving as Lead Pastor of a local church because I needed the definition to include certain commitments to the local church as an institution. Attending regularly, giving, and volunteering in some area of ministry would all be part of the description I would offer for a fully committed follower of Jesus.
And those aren’t bad things. Certainly, a lot of fully committed disciples of Jesus attend church regularly, give financially, and volunteer in various programs and ministries.
I also would have included quite a few personal disciplines, especially Bible reading and prayer. Throw in some fasting and meditation and you’ll really be showing your commitment.
Those are all good things as well. In fact, without them, we cut short the capacity in which God can really work in our lives. We should also include sharing our faith and doing good works in the community around us.
But… I’ve often made the mistake that I have warned others about, which is…
Activity doesn’t measure being fully committed.
If your idea of a growing, mature disciple is one who does all the good things and doesn’t do the bad things, you may be missing out on something that lies beyond the activities we associate with an active faith. And what lies further down the road than the activities and disciplines of the Christian life?
True spiritual freedom.
Jesus obviously invited people out of oppressive religion and into the “unforced rhythms of grace” (from The Message’s masterful paraphrase of Matthew 11:28-30). While preparing my message notes for this week’s Reflectionary newsletter, I was struck by the sentiment Paul conveys to his protegé, Timothy…
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline… I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.
2 Timothy 1:7, 12 NRSV
Paul had tremendous confidence that, in light of his experience of God’s goodness, love, and grace, he could fully commit everything to God and God would be faithful and trustworthy with it all.