by: Rev. Ed Schneider
The title of this column is an interesting phrase. It implies someone’s intention to do whatever it takes to gain an ultimate victory. Whoever the person is, whatever the challenge, no matter the price needing to be paid, the individual in-question has committed to the sacrifice required to accomplish the goal.
There are of course people who use this phrase, just like many other phrases, without counting the cost of its usage. Not unlike many other societies, I suspect that ours in America is filled with individuals who either say things they believe others want to hear or they have no idea how to practically accomplish their stated goals.
I’m absolute sure (insert smile) no one that you know has the challenge of trying to impress on others their overt commitment to a cause or goal. I have even heard of some people who throw around popular phrases all the time in hope of gaining some personal validation by their use. Phrases like, “I’ll love you forever.” ‘You can count on me.” “I guarantee it!” “I’m committing 110% effort.”
Far too often these same individuals never truly mean what they say. With these and other similar phrases there are those who will compartmentalize their level of commitment.
Examples of this lack of “true” commitment would be;
“Let’s live together and see how it goes before we even talk about getting married.”
“I am excited about joining the varsity basketball team just as long as I get to play a lot.”
People who express the sentiment of “I’m in it to win it,” as long as something or someone else allows it to ultimately happen, provide prime examples of the continual downgrading of the concept of commitment. These same folks merely hope the desired ending somehow falls magically into their laps’ without supplying the work needed to accomplish the prize.
Compartmentalized commitment is literally not possible just as being “kinda” pregnant is possible either. You are either committed or you are not.
In the ninth chapter of First Corinthians, verses 19-27, it tells of Paul trying to explain not only the how of what he has been able to accomplish for the kingdom of God, but also the why. The Scripture I am referring to reads as follows:
“I am not anyone’s slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so that I can win as many people as possible.When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them.And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ.When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can.I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings.You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever. I don’t run without a goal. And I don’t box by beating my fists in the air. I keep my body under control and make it my slave, so I won’t lose out after telling the good news to others.”
Isn’t it amazing what people will and won’t commit their lives toward? Some have little difficulty “committing” to those things that…in the end…neither sustains life nor provides permanency of joy.
You will find young men COMMITTING to selling illegal drugs because they see no other way to receive success, financial stability, stature, personal validation, or the perception of power. At the end of a very short road they are either in jail, a social misfit, psychologically unbalanced, maimed, or dead. They see no practical hope of any other source that will provide the above goals, so they head straight into the buzz-saw of misguided “commitment.”
There are young girls who grow up with the confused notion that if they COMMIT to a man…any man…then they will somehow miraculously produce a picture-perfect family, love-life, and life long partner who will respect and encourage their growth as a couple. These unfortunately misguided young women are in search of the wrong fix to a much bigger problem.
In our church relationship we sometimes will “commit” to a local congregation but only if they continue to make us happy. Let anything get us mad and our “commitment” goes right out the proverbial window. Let someone ask anything of you that requires any level of sacrifice and we will jump through hoops to find excuse after excuse why we can’t get it done.
Even some pastors claim to be servants of others. These same pastoral servants are barely seen in any important and foundational activity concerning the practical life of the church. I have even heard of “pastors” claiming to be changed by the grace of a loving God, or care-takers of congregants, even lovers of the Lord without being someone who would be known as a “people-person.” They will only do the things that are easy and simplistic. They doggedly refuse to be involved with personal discomfort or the sacrifice of service to others. Yet, they tell both the church and community around them that they are “committed” to the ministry of God.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, there is plenty of blame to go around. Beloved, the word “commitment,” like the words friend or love, has fallen into the arena of compartmentalization.
We as a society as well as individuals need to reassess what the cost is to us personally before we “commit” to it. There are people in our lives that count on us. Whether you like it or even deserve it, these same individuals look at us with hope for the future. They watch to see what we do before they offer their commitments. They will unfortunately establish their definition of “commitment” by what they see and not by what we say. All of us should consider the cost of our commitments and all of us need to be realistic about who is watching us…both here on earth and in heaven.