Calvary Church

4216 West 204th St, Matteson, IL – 708-481-8300
  • Calvary Church
  • this Sunday
  • beliefs
  • when & where
  • pastor steve
  • church growth
  • media
  • the courier
  • Minimal Commitment

    I have decreed that my school bus students are 15% smarter, 11% stronger and way more awesome than the average student at the high school that I am delivering them to. Yes, it is just a goofy speech that I give every day, and I also commend them for getting their homework done  and for studying hard the night before for the test that they are about to take.

    As they get off the bus, I say to many of them, “All A’s today, right?”  I get a lot of, “I wish!”, mixed in with unbelieving chuckles. I ask them if they studied, and find that some have not, and that they then do poorly as a result.

    They are there, most every day, going through the motions, but not really caring how they do so long as they pass. Their concern is how to do the least to get by. They are minimal students, doing the least that they can do to still graduate.

    I find that there are many who seek to approach commitment to Christ in the same kind of way: “What is the least I can do and still get to heaven?” “How seriously do I have to take this Jesus thing?”  We might wonder how much of our earthly stuff do we need to surrender in order to say that we have given all to Jesus. How much should our “religion” inconvenience us? How often should we go to Church?  Should I tithe on the gross or the net? What are the minimal standards that will assure me of the pearly gates when I die?

    We could ask the same kind of question in regard to other commitments. What is the least that I can do and still consider myself to be a good husband/wife? How much do I really need to make my children a priority and still bear the “good parent” label? The very consideration of the question is by nature troublesome.

    Philippians 2 speaks of a minimal Christianity. “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  .  .  .” If we were to condense Paul’s words, we could rephrase it like this: “If Christ is real to you at all, even just a teeny bit,  .  .  .” What follows is an example of “minimal Christianity.”  In verses 2-4, he writes about how we need to be wholly unified and must seek the benefit of others, over ourselves. Minimally, we need to get out of the way of what Christ is seeking to do in and through us (not my will) while we get seriously humble, actually putting others first to the point that self-consideration is not a factor.

    When people came to Jesus and declared their vital allegiance to him, he often challenged their actual commitment level. He clearly communicated that you could not follow him while wanting anything for yourself, other than him.  He was calling them  to abandon of all of their earthly crap in favor of following him.  There would be no place to lay your head and no looking back. He talked about carrying a cross, and not the smooth artsy kind either. He called them/us to carry that nasty, probably been used before complete with other’s blood stains, rough and heavy beam that would be the instrument of their/our death.

    As I look around the body of Christ in America, I don’t see a lot of personal sacrifice for the sake of Christ. Our Churches are pretty cushy places, with nicely padded pews and Starbuck’s in the lobby. It is almost like we are affirming a call to carry a latte rather than a brutal and bloodied thing.

    As Paul continues in Philippians 2, he tells of the level of Christ’s commitment to us that we are supposed transmit to those around us. The one in whom all the fullness of the deity dwells humbled himself, becoming the servant of those/we who had turned against him, to the point of dying brutally in their/our place. Jesus gives us the example of minimal commitment. There is really no such thing.  There is only commitment.

    This following Jesus is an all or nothing proposition: We cannot sort of follow Jesus.  Either we do, or we don’t. There is no other level. If we are not all in, we are not in. No one said that this would be easy.

    If we look to the next chapter in Philippians, we see Paul’s personal example of being all in. He actually intentionally surrendered all earthly rank and status, seeing it as a hindrance to minimal devotion to Christ. He actually intentionally placed himself in harm’s way without complaint, embracing it that he might know Christ who placed himself in death’s coils for our sake. He died with nothing other than his devotion to Christ because of his devotion to Christ. To Paul everything was crap in comparison to knowing Christ.  Do we want the crap, or do we want Christ?

    Within our culture, we are taught to take pride in our accomplishments and possessions, having a bit of a glow of self accomplishment because of what we have laid up for ourselves. If we take Jesus seriously, if we are minimally committed, then are not all of our accomplishments and possession just a steaming pile of crap in comparison to knowing Christ? Who points to a large pile of refuse with pride?

    (And please do not think that a minimal commitment is easy or stress free.  It was not for Jesus and it will not be for us as we seek to rest in him, trusting him. A brief study of 2nd Corinthians reveals that following Christ will include time of stress.)

    Minimal commitment is just a concept that we can use to comfort ourselves with the thought; “At least we are Christians.”  Following Jesus has nothing to do with doing a little as you can.  It is all or nothing.

    Lord, here’s my heart,
    won’t you make it and mold it
    into the image of Christ?

    The least I can offer,
    everything, my God I offer.
    Lord, I surrender to you.

    Leave a Reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.