Summary: God offers us abundant life through our commitment to him. He has committed himself to us. Our job is to commit to him through our prayers, presence, gifts, and service.
Abundant Life with a Capital “L”
November 18, 2007
Today is Thanksgiving Sunday; a day when we stop and intentionally remember how blessed we have been by God. On this coming Thursday, we will do what our American ancestors have done since before we were even a nation: we will feast and give thanks for this land and for the God who has brought us this far.
It is also our Consecration and Commitment Sunday. I planned it this way. This date for the presentation of our 2008 commitments was intentional because by our commitments to the work of God through Calvary United Methodist Church, we demonstrate our level of gratitude.
If you remember the last few weeks, we have been talking about our commitments. We have said that we make a commitment to God because God has made a commitment to us. Our commitment is judged in four areas: our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service. God uses us through all four of those areas of discipleship.
Commitment is something that is necessary for success in any endeavor in life. I graduated from college with the intention of going straight on to seminary. I had been accepted out at the University of Denver, but the problem was that I had no money. Toni and I had been married for a year and had absolutely no savings and no way to go to school. So I wrote them and told them that I needed to put seminary off for a year. They were very gracious and told me that they would hold a place for me in the next year’s incoming class.
Now I was faced with the prospect of finding a job. I had a brand new bachelor’s degree in my pocket but couldn’t find a job anywhere. I wish someone had told me in high school that a BA in sociology is just not all that marketable.
So I went to work at Pizza Hut. I showed up at seven o’clock every morning to make 40 pounds of spaghetti, a couple of hundred pounds of pizza dough, chef salads, and pizza sauce. I chopped forty pounds of onions, forty pounds of green peppers, and fifteen or twenty heads of lettuce.
Now there is nothing at all wrong with working at Pizza Hut. It is honest labor. But my heart wasn’t in it. I just wasn’t committed to it and didn’t do my best.
After a couple of months, I found another job. I was hired by the Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center as a security officer working the 11:00 pm to 7 am shift. I had worked there part time while I was in college as an Activity Therapy Assistant and so had some experience with working with retarded individuals. Our job as security officers was to pick up medication boxes from each cottage and take them to the pharmacy where they could be refilled for the next day. The rest of the night was simply being available to respond to emergencies. Every once in a while we would have to transport a sick resident to the hospital or help subdue a resident who had become violent, but generally we just sat in our van and tried to keep from falling asleep.
Again, that was necessary work and an honorable job, but my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t committed to it and so didn’t do my best.
Commitment is important. You wouldn’t really think about beginning a marriage without it. You wouldn’t think about having children without it. You would waste your time going to school without it. You never do your best on the job without it. And the same thing is true in the church. We can never become all that God intends for us to be without commitment to God’s lifestyle and the way of Jesus Christ.
I guess that the first thing I would like you to remember is that our commitment to God comes only after God’s commitment to us. Our commitment is only a response to the prior commitment that God has made. And when God makes a commitment, he stands by it.
Back in the 17th chapter of Genesis, God established a covenant with Abraham. Covenant is a legal term. It was a binding agreement between two parties.
No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you…As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations (Genesis 17:5-7, 9).