Summary: Calling people to a deeper commitment to God and each other on our 91st Anniversary Commitment Sunday.
Commitment Sunday February 11, 2002
The Cross of Commitment
It may be hard to imagine the renowned theologian J.I. Packer sitting in a hot tub, but that is where he is when he makes this quote:
“The other day ...as I sat there savoring hot tubness, cracking small jokes and adjusting to the feel of being bubbled over from all angles, it struck me that the hot tub is the perfect symbol of the modern route in religion. The hot tub experience is sensuous, relaxing, floppy, laid-back: not in any way demanding ...but very, very nice, even to the point of being great fun.
Many today want Christianity to be like that and labor to make it so. The ultimate step, of course, would be to clear church auditoriums of seats and install hot tubs in their place; then there would never be any attendance problems But if there were no more to our Christianity than hot tub factors-a self- absorbed hedonism of relaxation and happy feelings, while dodging tough tasks, unpopular stance, and exhausting relationship-we should fall short of biblical God-centeredness and the cross-bearing life to which Jesus calls us, and advertise to the world nothing more than our own decadence.”
Bob Beckett is a pastor from Hemet Cal. That we see in the Transformations Video – He refers to Hemet as a “pastor’s graveyard,” a place where pastors do not last long and often leave the ministry altogether after ministering there. Bob and his wife never unpacked because they were waiting for the day that God would take them out.
Then they realized that God was calling them to a lifetime commitment – they went out and bought their burial plots. – it was then that things started to turn around. Both for their church and the town saw amazing transformation, church growth and unity.
When God calls us he calls us to deep commitment.
When Jesus calls us to be his follower, this is what it says: “Then he said to them all: "Those who would come after me, he must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their lives will lose them, but those who lose their lives for me will save them. What good is it for you to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit your very self?”
Denying your will – Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Denying selfish desires
– A knight’s tale –
While Sir Orrick is in Paris he travels to a Cathedral to visit the woman he loves. In the Cathedral, he asks her, “Joselyn, How may I prove my love to you?” She tells him, “If you would prove your love, you should do worst.” He replies, “My worst, what do you mean?” “ Instead of winning to honor me with your high reputation, I want you to act against your normal character and do badly.” “ Do badly?” “Lose.” “Losing proves nothing, except that I am a Loser.” “Wrong!, Losing is a much keener test of your love.” “Losing would contradict your self-love and Losing would show your obedience to your lover and not to yourself!”
There are times that what we would like to think is commitment to God is only a commitment to our own success. True commitment to God is a commitment to obedience even if it means failure
Denying your righteousness
To come to God we have to give up any notion that we have the ability to please him on our own. Isaiah says that even our righteous acts are like dirty rags in comparison to the way we need to act.
– counting all this as loss – Philippians 3:7-11
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ”
Denying your “self” – When I was working with handicapped kids at Pioneer Camps – pouring my life into these kids day in and day out – it was a great spiritual exercise that taught me a bit of what it means to lose myself in the service of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
Taking up your cross
When Jesus calls us to take up our cross, he is not talking about accepting normal human suffering like illness, economic troubles, rebellious children…