What does commitment look like? How do you know when you are really sold out to something or someone? As human beings we make commitments of all kinds. We commit to marry someone and take vows expressing the conditions of that commitment. We commit to work for someone and accept payment in return for our labors. We commit to a gym membership by signing a contract. We commit to a mortgage on a new home and agree to pay back what we borrowed along with substantial amounts of interest. But in all of those instances, we may keep our commitments, but do so without putting our hearts into it. We can stay married, but act as if we no longer love one another. We can show up at work every day, but never put in a full day’s work. We can faithfully pay the monthly dues on our gym membership and never darken the door or lift a single weight. We can send in our mortgage payment each month, but hate our home the whole time we live in it. So is just keeping our word, paying our debts and meeting our obligations commitment?
When I think about what it means to be a Christian in today’s society, I am struck with the thought that it really doesn’t require much of us. There’s no real commitment required. Now don’t get me wrong. There are places around the world where professing to be a follower of Christ will get you killed. But in the good old United States of America, and in the typical evangelical church, there is little commitment required to be a Christ-follower. There’s no cost. Following Christ is as simple as praying a prayer, walking the aisle, repeating some words, or doing any of a number of other things depending on your denominational bent. But it would seem that, once saved, there is little required of the average believer in the average Bible-believing church. Sure, there are lists of things to do, like join a Bible study, attend a Sunday School class, join a small group, have a daily quiet time, pray occasionally, and tithe. But those things are often portrayed as add-ons. We just include them on our already busy calendars along with work, kids, soccer practice, PTA meetings, social outings, and all the other things that make up the average American lifestyle. The only real cost seems to be in time commitment and the possible lack of sleep.
But what have we been called to as believers? What was Jesus offering His disciples when He said, “Follow me”? I can’t help but think of a couple of parables Jesus used that are recorded in the gospel of Matthew. They concerned the Kingdom of Heaven. In the first one, He tells of a man who unexpectedly discovered a treasure hidden buried in a field. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field” (Matthew 13:44 NLT). Obviously, this man did not own the field. We don’t know what he was doing in someone else’s field or how he found the treasure. But rather than steal it, he put it back, then did everything he needed to do to come up with enough money to buy the field. He recognized the value of the treasure and was willing to give up all he had to take possession of it. The treasure was more valuable than anything he owned.
Jesus backed up this parable with a second one. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:45-46 NLT). In this case, the man didn’t come upon the treasure unexpectedly, he had been searching for it. When he found what he had been looking for, he sold all that he owned and bought it. He wanted it so badly that nothing else held any value to him until he got his hands on it.
Now think about yourself. How valuable is the treasure you discovered in Jesus Christ? How valuable is He to you? Would you be willing to sacrifice anything and everything to have Him? It’s amazing to think that we did nothing to earn salvation. It was a free gift provided to us by God the Father. And as valuable as it is, most of us take it for granted. Paul says, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT). But far too often, we treat this great treasure with disdain and a bit of dissatisfaction. It just doesn’t seem to be enough. We need more. So we look elsewhere for our joy, contentment, satisfaction, hope, happiness and fulfillment. But to have Jesus should be more than enough. There is nothing worth having that is worth treating Jesus with contempt. Jesus is looking for commitment. He wants followers who are all in and willing to go all out on behalf of the Kingdom of God. But we get distracted. We find other treasures. Jeremiah, the prophet, tells of two sins the people of Israel had committed against God, and his indictment came directly from the lips of God. “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” (Jeremiah 2:13 NLT). The reneged on their commitment. They found something other than God to meet their needs, even though it would prove to be unreliable.
God is looking for those who will commit themselves to the cause – heart and soul. Christ is looking for followers who are all in and willing to go all out in order to see this great treasure shine through their lives. Committed followers just can’t get enough of Jesus. They won’t settle for anything less than Jesus. They are willing to give up anything to experience more of Jesus. All in. All out. All the time.