"When a person stands before other people and says he believes in me, then I will say that person belongs to me. I will say this before my [God] in heaven. But when a person stands before people and says he does not believe in me, then I will say that person does not belong to me. I will say this before my [God] in heaven."
Reflection by Kenneth L. Samue
Have you ever noticed how many people live with "commitment-phobia"? Perhaps you are one of them. In these days of uncertainty, we find it daunting to make long-range commitments, especially publicly. What if we lose our jobs? What if the people we commit to prove untrustworthy? What if we just don't feel tomorrow the way we feel today?
Fear of commitment gives us the shaky satisfaction of believing that our options are always open. So if we don’t commit to one person, we can still choose from an array of others. If we don't commit to one set of beliefs, we can just sample all the others in perpetuity. If we don't commit to any one church or body of believers, the role of visitor suits us just fine. And if we don't commit to any plan, then whatever happens is OK. So we think.
Public commitment carries a public accountability that many of us are not willing to shoulder. What we fail to realize, however, is that lack of commitment also carries accountability. Jesus says that a failure to acknowledge commitment to him publicly will result in the loss of a relationship with eternal consequences. To fail to decide is, in actuality, to make a decision.
This is not the year for closeted confessions and commitments. This is the year to step outside the shadows of shame. This is the year to discontinue the deceptions and duplicities of the down-low. This is the year to publicly embrace all that we are and all that we believe and all that we have in Christ.
Progressive Christian? Political liberal? Critical thinker? Open to dialogue and revelations from other faith traditions? Consistent supporter of the work and witness of a church body? Dedicated in loving relationship to one significant other? Not ashamed of the gospel of Christ? For me, these are not really questions. They are all a part of my public commitment. I’d stand to forfeit too much in relationship, responsibility and reward if I openly denied any of them.
Who and what are you committed to this year? Are you willing to make it public?
Dear Lord, we begin this year by acknowledging our faith in you and our commitment to live unashamed as your disciples. Help us to know the power of your open love for us, and help us share that power as we openly declare our love for one another. Amen.
About the Author
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.
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