As you might imagine, being engaged makes you think a lot about commitment; what it means to be wholly devoted to someone.
Generation Y has grown up in an era of divorce. It’s no surprise that now, in our 20’s and 30’s, marriage rates are declining among Millennials. Who would want to get married after seeing so many failed marriages tear families apart? It’s safe to say that society is trending downwards when it comes to commitment, in terms of relationships and otherwise.
There is so much to be said about the meaning of the covenant of marriage, and maybe at some point in the future we’ll tackle that topic head on. For now, however, I’d like to talk about commitment in a much broader sense. I want to ask the question, do we really depend on other people?
I’ll admit I’m stubbornly independent (just ask Nick or my parents). I really don’t like asking for help or advice because I feel like I’m being a burden on other people. In many circumstances, I would much rather be left to my own devices. The Gospel has taught me that this is not really God’s design. We, Christ’s church, are one body and there are many parts, many members. We were made to live together and work together.
1 Corinthians 12:14-20 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
As a community, we need each other and our differences. We were made to ask for help and to lend a helping hand. But how can we depend on other people when we have track records of being non-committal? We can’t. So instead, we say, “I can do it all,” or “I don’t need these particular parts of the body.” 1 Corinthians says, this creates great division.
1 Corinthians 12:21-27 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
Christians commit themselves to others because Christ committed himself first to us. Members of the body of Christ are supposed to have the same care for one another. It doesn’t just say we are supposed to care for one another, but treat each other with the same care, equal care. We suffer and rejoice side by side, not just when our personal feelings are on the line. We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. The world ought to recognize us by our genuine love, even when it means personal sacrifice. That’s what authentic commitment looks like.
The problem is that this is really, really hard. Sticking by our commitments and the people we are committed to is time, energy, and life consuming. It requires some perseverance and a lot of faithfulness. I find it very difficult to will myself into doing something I don’t want to do. Knowing that we commit because He committed is our true motivation. Without this knowledge, it’s a challenge, and I would argue pretty impossible, to get there on our own accord.
Proverbs 25:13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.
A faithful messenger, a dependable friend, spouse, sibling or co-worker is like the cold of snow in the time of harvest. In other words, reliable people are like Freeze Pops in the scorching heat of summer; refreshing. I think some of us have a tendency to over-commit and spread ourselves too thin. Our intentions are good, our hearts are in the right place, we want to help and be involved in our communities, but we simply don’t have enough time and energy to do everything and be everything for everyone.
Sometimes I find myself flaking out on commitments for totally illegitimate reasons; inconvenience, laziness, entitlement etc. During this Lenten season, I pray we would see with renewed hearts and spirits that Christ committed himself to us even as He was nailed to a tree. That certainly wasn’t easy or convenient. He didn’t want the cross. The cross meant pain and death and suffering. But, he wanted us, so it was finished.
Luke 22:42 Saying “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Coming full circle, when I think about the most dedicated form of earthly commitment, I think about marriage; when we vow to commit to our spouses, “till death do us part.” In Christ, not even death could separate us. He conquered the grave in the greatest act of commitment the world will ever know. I hope we will be a committed people for his glory.