Confronting challenges of commitment

One of the subplots in the movie The Princess Bride*, is Inigo Montoya’s search for his father’s killer, the six fingered man. But perhaps the most well known lines from the movie, besides Vizzini’s, “Inconceivable” is Inigo Montoya’s, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Those two simple sentences could be used to refer to a host of words we use every day. The same is true of the word “commitment.” It is an interesting and, perhaps, ambiguous term.

 

In his book The 6 Key Components of Commitment, Jeff Janssen writes:
“In the sports arena, it is described as a serious, long-term promise you make and keep with yourself and others to fully dedicate yourself to a task, training and/or team, even when, and especially when times are tough. Further, commitment means not only promising to do something, but much more importantly, actually investing the necessary effort and actions to make it happen.”

 

The problem that we face today is a diminished form of commitment that characterizes many Christians that leads to a very tepid following of Christ. This is something that many are quite comfortable with. In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus interacts with three 3 individuals and confronts three challenges to commitment.

 

The challenge of comfort

 

In his first encounter, Jesus and his entourage are travelling toward Jerusalem. During their journey, they encounter a man who is interested in following Jesus and even says that he will follow Jesus wherever he goes. Jesus’ response is surprising.

 

Are we committed to following Jesus when he leads us into places of discomfort? When following him requires something of us? When it requires that we walk away from comfort and choose discomfort? When the reality of following Jesus requires that we risk comfort and presents the possibility of difficulty, discomfort, or even suffering for him?

 

A fully committed follower of Jesus rejects that idea of relentlessly pursuing a life of comfort and ease at all costs. It means that we are open to, accept, and embrace the reality of discomfort, difficulty, and the pain that is connected to following Jesus.

 

The life that does not prioritize comfort and avoidance of difficulty and pain for the sake of Christ leads to trust, dependence, and intimacy that results in a person who bears much fruit which culminates in God being glorified.

 

The challenge of preeminence

 

In the second encounter, we see an individual not volunteering but being recruited. This man’s less than enthusiastic response makes you wonder if his father was actually dead.

 

Jesus and his demands supersede important family responsibilities and cultural expectations. A fully committed follower of Jesus Christ makes sure that Jesus is not just prominent in his life but that he is preeminent.

 

What cultural norms or expectations do you need to confront so that you can orientate your life in such a way where Jesus is not just prominent in your life, he is preeminent?

 

The challenge of focus

 

In the third encounter, Jesus is approached by a volunteer who makes a conditional offer. He says, “Lord I will follow…but first…” We’ve been there. We say, “Lord I will do _____________, if you do _______________.” Or, Lord, I will do _________________, but first I have to_______________.”

 

To such statements, Jesus offers this warning, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” In other words, a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ bids farewell to, and totally, detaches from old values and the old way of life. Complete commitment to Jesus requires us to have a singular focus that requires lifelong diligence. To use the phrase from Eugene Peterson, “It’s a long obedience in the same direction.”

 

Questions

 

What is it that distracts you? What must you confront and deal with that pulls your focus away from moving forward and completely following Jesus Christ?

 

 

*Don’t hate you know you love that movie too.



New Sermon Series

 
In his book Follow Me, David Platt notes that “research reveals that there is an ever increasing number of born-again Christians who describe themselves as only marginally committed to Jesus Christ”. He illustrates this by pointing out that in Jamaica – a country described as almost 100% Christian and which boasts of having the highest number of churches per square mile -there are few self-professed Christians that attend church or attempt to live a consistent Christian life.
 
This indicates to me that although believers may claim to be “followers of Christ” there is much fuzzy and jumbled thinking about what this means and entails. Exactly how and why this has happened is not entirely clear. But, it could be that we have not spent enough time considering what “following” and being a disciple is really all about.
 
In the next few month we will be digging into Luke 9:51 -19:27 in order to Discover the Direction of Discipleship.
As we consider this important section of Scripture it is our hope that we will come to a greater and deeper understanding of the nature of following Jesus and the character of a devoted follower.
 
We encourage you to read and reflect on this portion of Scripture throughout the coming months. Over the course of these months we will also suggest various books (which can be found in our library) to read that address the topic(s) of following and discipleship.
 
We recommend: 
 
David Platt:

Radical and Follow Me

Kyle Idleman:

Not A Fan

Pastor Dave