Commitment in a Noncommittal World

I’m continuing my series of posts looking at InFaith’s Ministry Essentials. A couple weeks ago I talked about relevance; before that, community. Today I want to talk about commitment.

 

We are a group of Christ-followers who intentionally live out what it means to be the family of God, submitting to each other, willingly accountable, and genuinely caring for those who are called to our common work.

 

At the root of any relationship is commitment. Commitment defines a relationship. My commitment to the stranger in the Volvo that cut me off on my way to work this morning is pretty low. That’s why I just ignored him. Or I sped past him the next chance I got; I don’t remember. But my commitment to the members of my church is much higher. I stood before them and said that I wanted to join them on this crazy walk after Jesus. So I’m going to stick with these people. I want to know them; I want them to know me. I take time to listen. I go out of my way to help.

 

One of the reasons we struggle to find happiness in our relationships is because we enter into them with low levels of commitment. We live in a noncommittal world. We updgrade whenever we get the chance. We take a job even while planning our next departure. We move around from place to place, sometimes on a whim.

 

I’m guilty myself. I’m not really committed to my neighborhood and I don’t know my neighbors, either. It wouldn’t take much to see me move out of the community or the area. In contrast, I’m very committed to the intentional community I live with. There are nine of us living together. I’ve been there for three years. Through some of the best times of my life and certainly the worst time of my life, this community has been there with me and for me. I have not moved out or moved away specifically because of my commitment to these people. Because I have been committed to them, we have been able to enjoy the good times, enter the tough times, and come out on the other side to enjoy the expected gifts of living together. (Check out Chris Heuretz’s book on this special phenomenon of living together.)

 

Since joining InFaith, I’ve realized that this ministry essential is more than a marketing ploy. These people are really committed to each other. Though at times during the interview process I thought I was a circus animal jumping through hoop after hoop (and some of them, I am certain, were flaming), I now realize that it was because they wanted to be able to commit to me. Not in some narrow, are-you-just-like-us kind of way, but in a discerning, are-you-genuine-and-really-who-you-say-you-are kind of way. And they did commit. I’ve never felt so cared for and supported in my work. And as a part of InFaith, I can now saw we commit. We care for each other because we are committed to each other. We accept one another in all of our messiness and love each other enough to keep each other accountable to the faith we profess.

 

We desperately need this because the Gospel is risky business. The call of the Christ demands our whole lives. Christ lays claim over our finances (Matthew 19:16-26) and our family (Luke 14:26-27). When we lay down our life and follow after this crazy God-man, we need others to walk with. Commitment to each other makes a companioned journey possible.

 

Commitment is not easy. It takes tremendous amounts of patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. To commit is to ensure that toes will be stepped on and feelings will be hurt. But it is also to ensure that lives will be changed, storms of life will be weathered, and the joys of life will be shared.

 

What would it look like if we brought a bit more commitment into our lives and our participation in God’s mission in the world? How much more boldly would we be able to step out to try new and risky things if we knew that we had a family of brothers and sisters who’ve got our backs? What sorts of blind spots would be exposed? To what new levels of accountability would we be called? Commitment to each other is a form of God’s grace that allows us to carry on along The Way. I hope that wherever you find yourself you are able to enter into your relationships with greater levels of genuine commitment. And I hope this spurs us all on to greater participation in God’s mission.