"Committed or Not"

What if one day we opened the newspaper and the headlines read: "God Is No Longer Committed to His Creation." And when we read the article we learn that God no longer forgives sin, God no longer loves unconditionally, and God is no longer active in our daily lives. This would be devastating, wouldn't it?

How would you react if you knew God would no longer be active in all that you do, or that God would no longer forgive you? Would you feel betrayed, angry, or disappointed?

Now we know how God must feel when we deny him, or when we show a lack of commitment to him, his church, and the Gospel. We ought to be as committed to God as God is committed to us. Are we placing God first in our lives? Are we supporting God's church in the giving of our time, money, energy, and gifts, or do we worship and attend strictly out of religious obligation? Once again, are we as committed to God as God is committed to us?

As I read John's Gospel this week the one thought that kept jumping out at me was commitment. As Jesus explains why he must die I couldn't help but be in awe at how committed he was to doing his fathers will even though he had the power to say no.

Jesus was committed to fulfilling God's will, to save this world from eternal damnation. Jesus was committed to God.

It's ironic that for Jesus to follow God's will meant a cruel death. However, if we follow God's will it means life, eternal life. Therefore, the truth is, commitment is a profoundly spiritual matter with eternal implications. Commitment is NOT church doctrine or something at the fringe or edge of the Bible; rather commitment to God comes out of the very heart of the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments.

When we commit ourselves to God we surrender our "whole_life" to God. Meaning we love and serve God out of gratitude for all that he has given us.

God has given each one of us many gifts so that our needs might be met; and God has also given us gifts so that we might share with others, to help them meet their needs.

Sharing with others is what helps build God's kingdom, because God uses us through our giving and serving to bring others to Jesus. Therefore our faithful commitment to serve God, or lack of, does have eternal implications.

Unfortunately, when God gave Adam and Eve the job of managing the kingdom, they disobeyed His instructions. And, ever since then, human beings have been mismanaging God's creation and God's Word with devastating results.

We as human beings often times act as if we own whatever we can get our hands on, and we believe we have the right to establish the values by which we use what we have.

But if we are to live as committed Christians, we need to focus on the very heart of commitment. We need to live as people of the Gospel, committing our whole selves to love of God and love of neighbor.

Our commitment to God can not be lived out in isolation, it must be lived out in Christian fellowship.

When God entrusted to us his Holy Word, God expected us to protect it, proclaim it, and live it. And lets face it, this isn't easy. After a busy day dealing with work, home, children and everything else we don't have a whole lot left.

We've gorged ourselves with the things of this world to the point it's become hard to find the time, money, and energy to serve God. Instead of giving God our first fruits, we often find ourselves giving God what ever we have left over.

We need to go on a diet if you will, to shed the pounds of worldly excess, replacing it with God's priorities.

After all Jesus didn't say, if you feel like it, follow me, he said follow me. Jesus didn't say, if you feel like it, love your neighbors, he said love your neighbors. Jesus didn't say, when you feel like it serve, he said serve. Jesus didn't say, if you feel like it go and make disciples, he said go. The Gospel is meant to lead us to action in the name of Jesus, it's not simply to be absorbed and thought about.

Now what does it mean to be living the Gospel? In my mind it comes down to two issues: one is motivation, and the other is setting priorities. So what motivates us to commit ourselves to living the Gospel? Is it love, is it faith, or is it simply out of family tradition.

Our commitment to God and the Gospel must be active in love, and our lives must reflect our profession of faith.

Christianity and life are not separate existences; they are very much linked together. And we should never forget that in the end God knows what motivates us and what the desire of our heart really is. We may fool others, but we can't fool God.

Let me ask you, do you believe the Gospel? I'm sure most, if not all of us, would say of course we believe the Gospel or we wouldn't be here this morning. But my challenge this morning is for each of us to honestly answer the question, do we really believe the Gospel?

Do we believe the Gospel enough to never again think that faithfully serving God is merely not committing any sins? Do we believe the Gospel enough to place our whole trust in God to make decisions on how we live?

Do we believe the Gospel enough to want to make a difference in the lives of others? Do we believe the Gospel enough to want to make disciples?

Do we believe the Gospel enough to allow love alone to motivate us to support God's ministry through his Church, knowing that the church is the primary means through which God reaches the community and the world in mission. Is the Gospel at the edge of our life, or is it the heart of our life?

These are the fundamental questions that we each ought to ask and honestly answer. And I encourage each of us to reflect on these questions over the coming weeks as we approach Easter, and to discern if we are as committed to God as he is committed to us. To truly be committed to the Gospel, means to be living the Gospel, and following the teachings of Christ. It's more then giving lip service to the wonderful stories of Jesus, and attending worship on Sunday mornings.

The Lord says, "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…" (Isaiah 29: 13). I'm convinced those who live their life, with the gospel as the foundation, and I mean really live the faith 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not just one hour on Sunday mornings, do more for winning disciples and growing God's kingdom then any one single act we can engage in.

Today we live in a culture where far too many people have decided to place their hope in the world rather than in Christ, choosing instead to ignore the gospel, or at best keep the gospel in their hip pocket just in case they need it.

Know that true hope is only found in the Gospel, the hope bought for you and me through the birth, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A hope that is freely available to all people. A gift from God that we ought to treasure and share with others.

You know the world is starving for the good news of Jesus. People are looking for appropriate role models. And folks are looking for something real to grasp onto to help them through the rough times.

There's no doubt many people are thirsty for spiritual meaning and are looking for hope. And the church needs to help these people come to know what real hope is.

The church is an instrument of God's grace, and the ministry, which takes place through the church is a means of sharing God's grace. This is why ministry is so important. Not just the ministry of the few, but the ministry of all professing Christians.

All who claim this local church as their church home are to be in ministry for the Lord. This is why God has created so many opportunities right here to grow in faith, and to serve others.

But for us, the church, to become vital in the lives of others, we must first commit ourselves to living the Gospel. [PAUSE] We begin by acknowledging and confessing that we have fallen short, and recommit ourselves to practice a renewed sense of holiness, meaning changing our priorities from the worlds to God's.

Is this easy to do? No it's not, but if we all work together, and help one another, I'm convinced we can all be committed believers. Here today, during our time of Communion, let us all commit ourselves to God's Holy Word. Let us commit to living the Gospel, making God the number one priority in our life, and love our sole motivation! Let us commit ourselves to Christ's church.

As Christians we need to actively seek God and freely surrender ourselves to his will. We need to be role models so others might learn what a blessing being a disciple of Christ is. We need to connect beyond ourselves and beyond our local church to win disciples for Christ.

Our motivation and desire must be nothing short of wanting to please and bring glory to God in all we do, through our giving and sharing with others. Seems to me this is what Jesus did.

And as followers of Jesus, we need to implement his teachings in the way we live, beginning with the two greatest commandments, love the Lord our God, and love our neighbors.

But if we truly want to experience a better reality, where all people openly share the love of Christ, if we want to live a more fulfilling life, then we need to stop sitting in the bleachers, and start being participants in the Gospel.

No longer should we live our lives on the fringe of the Gospel, rather we ought to live with the Gospel firmly rooted in our hearts, turning away from the sin of our past, and demonstrating that we are Easter people. Let us boldly show the world, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we know the way, we know the truth, and we are committed to the Gospel!

My brothers and sisters, I challenge you today to seize the opportunities to give and to serve, here in this place we call Trinity (Catoctin) United Methodist Church. Don't waste another day living for the world. Get on fire for Christ, be a beacon of hope, and glorify God's name in all you do!


Read other messages by Pastor Wade