Committed, Dedicated, Loyal, Faithful…
Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 7:13-14
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)
13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The Apathy Club
Did you hear about the college students who wanted to form a new organization on their campus? They called it the "Apathy Club"? Their "Apathy Club" wasn't going to be like any other student group. Where most organizations have a purpose or goal -- or some common interest to unify and motivate them -- this club was advertised as "believing in nothing, pursuing nothing." They simply didn't care about anything, and they were going to demonstrate their apathy in an organized fashion!
Just one problem...the self-appointed officers of the Apathy Club advertised the first meeting -- and not a single person showed up -- because anybody who might have been interested didn't care enough to attend.
That's funny until you realize that there's an apathy epidemic raging in American Christianity. Apathy - the dictionary says it's "a lack of feeling or emotion" - it's defined as "passivity and indifference" - or an "absence of concern or interest." Apathy has a close cousin -- complacency -- and complacency brings the added component of self-satisfaction.
- There are close to 100,000,000 American who claim to be Christians – that is 8 zeroes with a 1 in front of it yet we make no moral stands and have very little impact on America or the world.
- Most churches have more empty pews than full ones
- Churches struggle to get 2 or 3 people out for a Bible Study
- We will make an agreement to buy a car or a house and make more effort in paying that off then we do to being sold out for Christ, to share our faith or to make a moral commitment that goes against our culture.
Listen as Karen reads 2 directives from the New Testament, by the way a directive is a command or order, from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- There is a big difference between a decision to do something or an agreement between 2 parties and a commitment to Christ. There is a difference between Savior and Lord. You can’t separate the 2 but one is leads to the other. When Christ is Lord, when He is totally in charge He then is able to save us. Many Casual Believers believe in the Savior and want to spend eternity in heaven with Him, but aren’t willing follow Him as Lord.
- Casual Christianity is what is happening in America today; we want:
- we want to spend eternity in heaven,
- experience forgiveness
- want to be approved
- They invite Jesus into their lives
- Something is not right – if we have 100 million people who have made a decision to follow Christ we should be making some kind of impact. There is a big difference between a decision and a commitment. Let’s look at the two words:
- To decide means to choose, to settle on, or make up your mind.
- I decided to go by the way of Craigsville when I drove to Summersville last Sunday. I didn’t make a commitment to only go that way – I made a decision. We can choose Jesus or we settle on being a Christian. Doesn’t sound real convincing to me.
- There are multiple Greek words that are translated as commitment in the New Testament. I want us to look at 2 of those translations:
- Pariatithemi means to lay down something for another - 1 Peter 4:19 (NIV)
19 So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit (lay down) themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. We are talking about laying down our lives for God.
- Pisteuo means to entrust oneself to someone or to have faith in or believe in a person.
- To make a commitment from the New Testament perspective means to turn something over to someone or to give something up to another person. It implies yielding, surrendering, entrusting our lives to Christ. It is a matter of turning over our lives 100 % to Christ as Lord and become obedient to Him.
- God does not accept hemming and hawing around; either we are committed or we are not committed. There are no partial commitments.
- We are not just receiving Christ as our Savior – He must be our Lord and then He becomes Savior. We can’t say I believe and then leave it at that. Now that I took care of that I have the promise of heaven – I’ll take care of everything else until you call me home to heaven.
- Sadly I think that is what has happened in the American Church – we have accepted a partial gospel and partial commitments. That is why we are anemic and lack power. As Audra said a couple weeks ago at Bible Study at Edgewood Village we are in need of a revival.
- No one can be “sort of committed.” We are either committed or we are not committed. Let me clarify that commitment grows it is a process of growth in grace and love. God has not finished with any of us; He expects constant growing on our part.
- Let me make a simple analogy. Marriage has a lot of similarities to our relationship with God.
- You are either married or you are not – you are either committed or you are not. You can’t be sort of married. Even though couples have this arrangement. Time together should bring us to a deeper level of commitment to each other either in marriage or our commitment to Christ.
- That is the problem with infidelity whether it is with our spouse or with the Lord – it is the breaking of a commitment.
- We have been married for 34 years and our commitment is not where it was 34 years ago. Our love has grown and changed and matured. Our commitment, covenant or pledge to the Lord should always be maturing. Where your relationship with the Lord was a year ago should have changed and grown.
- God is working on our commitment level. He is bringing us to a deeper level of commitment. We should be also working on that commitment. If not growing and maturing we need to discover why. Most of the time the reason it isn’t growing and maturing is because we aren’t spending the time needed to grow that commitment.
- Again there is no such thing as a partial commitment. Saying anything other than yes Lord is a contradiction of terms.
- He is not Lord if we say “wait”
- He is not Lord if we say “no way”
- He is definitely not Lord if we make some excuse why we can’t do His will
ILL. Charles Stanley illustrates casual commitment this way: Let say that you are an airplane pilot flying one of those big planes. When the pilot starts down the runway there is a certain point where the pilot cannot decide to remain on the ground. When he / she crosses that line the pilot is committed to the air or the plane will crash. The pilot can’t change his mind 2/3 of the way down the runway. Stanley goes on to say that “unfortunately our churches are filled with members who have never left the ground. They have been sitting on the runway for years gunning their engines, Vroom, Vroom and going nowhere.
- “Commitment to Jesus Christ means commitment of our total person Romans 12;1-2 1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (the Message)
- I am sure you heard the story of a chicken and pig who saw starving people and felt moved to do something. The chicken recommended that they have a ham and egg breakfast for the people. The pig response was “that’s great you offer some eggs as a gift but I have to make a total commitment to serve them breakfast.
- Paul is that we are to place ourselves in front of God as an offering – a living offering. Not a check in an envelope but an offering of our total being. We are offering everything we have.
- It is as if we are climbing into the offering plate and giving ourselves to God.
- Isaiah 6:8 (NIV) Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
- Are we willing to say send me.
- Paul gives us a warning and a directive – the world around us will suck us in and there is a real possibility that we will just fit in so we don’t stick out as one of those fanatic Christians. So we begin to compromise. Paul warns us and then tells us to fix our attention of God. Recognize what God wants and do it quickly. God is going to bring the best out in us if we allow Him to use us as a living committed sacrifice.
Conclusion: A little girl heard the preacher preach about giving and she wondered what she could give. As the usher were passing the offering plate she had no money but she had something more than money. When the plate got to her she put the plate on the floor and stepped in the plate and said “here I am Lord use me.” Are we willing to be that committed? I invite you to come and make a commitment as a living offering to Jesus Christ.