Sunday, October 25, 2015 was one of the more exciting Sundays in our church’s history. It was the conclusion of our Immeasurably More series with the theme of Immeasurably More Commitment. Our pastor, Jeff Noble, rehashed our first four sermons about our vision, love, hope, grace and contentment. When we add all four of these gifts that God has given to us, we know that we are called to Immeasurably More Commitment. [podcast here]
We are compelled by the commitment that has been made to us by a never-changing God to give back to Him a commitment of an “all-in” lifestyle. We have been led in a spiritual journey that hopefully has given us the confidence that we serve a God who is able. We must believe that God is able to do immeasurably more.
Jeff focused on Matthew 19 which tells us the story of the rich young ruler and how his contentment was bottled up in his material possessions and “religious” lifestyle. Last week we looked at why true contentment could only be found in Jesus Christ. This week we went one step further to find out that contentment can only be found in a commitment to Jesus Christ. You cannot have contentment without commitment. It seems so simple when we look at the solution to the diagnosis. Just as the rich young ruler wanted to cling to what he had, we often hold onto to something despite Jesus offering all that we would want and need. We want contentment without the commitment, and unfortunately, that does not work. Living that type of half-hearted Christianity leaves us feeling guilty without having the joy of Jesus. To live in full-hearted Christianity is to be fully committed to Jesus Christ. Jeff emphasized that following Jesus and fully committing to Jesus are the same thing. He pointed out that many say they are “followers” of Jesus but who are not whole-heartedly committed to Him. To follow means to commit. Jesus offered the man contentment through commitment by saying, “Come, follow me.” Jesus offers this same contentment through commitment to us.
The instance with the rich young ruler was not the first time that Jesus had offered contentment through commitment in His ministry. Jeff covered five different times that Jesus commanded people with his authoritative “follow me.”
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:19-22)
Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22)
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-38)
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:21-24)
It is interesting that Jesus always calls people from their current situation to follow Him. Jesus always calls us into a denial of ourself and into a commitment to Him. This is not “radical.” This is just being a Christian. How wonderful is the true love, joy, and contentment that we find in this commitment.
Jeff shared that the Lord gives us blessing in our lives as we commit. If you remember the rich young ruler was not only asked to sell all that he had but to also give to the poor as well. It seems like the man did not have generosity in his heart. He was living for one person, and it was himself. What we do with what we receive reveals whether we have a steward’s heart or an owner’s greed that will prevent us from following Jesus. Jeff said that when we commit our lives fully, we are given reward, reign, and relationship.
So the question that we are asking is “Is it worth it?” As we look at what we “get” as a committed follower of Jesus Christ, the answer is very clear. There is nothing in the world more worth a full commitment to Jesus. We are so weary of risking what we have right now for a future that may be unknown. Jeff challenged us by asking, “Is it truly risky to trust God?” Is it truly risky to believe His word? Is it too risky to bank everything that we are and have on ultimate, eternal reward? He pointed out that it is actually more risky to NOT trust God. To trust God is to commit to Him and His church.
However, a commitment to Christ must come before a commitment to the church. God desires that we make a whole-hearted Christ commitment. As a result, we will be filled with joy, love, grace, contentment, and commitment. Gratitude flows from us as we experience His blessing from our commitment. As we live in thanksgiving, we realize that our full-hearted commitment to God is not just worth it, but it is immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.