Sermon Illustrations

Marshall and Manuel noted the following thought about these 2 covenant relationships and the necessity to commit to both:

How critically important for us Christians is the business of commitment to one-another-as vital for the Body of Christ today as it was three-and-a-half centuries ago! There are two great steps of faith in the Christian walk, and they correspond to the two Great Commandments: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The first step of faith is the vertical commitment: once a person had discovered the reality of God, and has experienced the miraculous gift of salvation in His Son Jesus Christ, he then must face the prospect of accepting Christ as his Lord and Master, as well as Savior. To do this means yielding our wills to God: ‘Nevertheless not my will but Thy will be done.’ And it is a covenant relationship, which means there are two parties to the agreement. As long as the Christian obeys His God in humility, God will honor his obedience, often blessing him beyond all imagining. The second step of faith is the horizontal commitment to one’s neighbor, and ultimately to that specific body of Christian neighbors of whom God calls one to be a part. In a way, this second step requires even more faith, because now one has to learn to trust a perfect God operating in and through imperfect vessels. We must do this armed only with the assurance that it is God’s will, that they too are aware of their being called to serve Him together. The vertical aspect of the Covenant has to come first, just as the First and Great Commandment does. But as strong as it is, the vertical aspect alone, without a cross-bar, is not the Cross of Christ. The second step calls one to yield to that local part of the Body of Christ, and to dedicate oneself to that congregation and its work. Indeed, the body’s effectiveness will be magnified to the extent to which its individuals mutually dedicate themselves. This dedication accounted for the soldierly esprit de corps of the early Jesuits, and made them the shock troops of the army of Christ. Alone, their vertical commitment to Christ was unsurpassed –but as the body, they are renowned the world over! Esprit de corps-the literal translation is ‘the spirit of the body.’ This may be one of the reasons why God permits pressures to befall the Body of Christ. For wherever there is pressure of affliction, there is corresponding increase in commitment to one another, as well as commitment to God” (The Light and the Glory, pages 167, 168).