A cartoon showed a man ready to jump off a high-rise apartment building. In his hand was a suicide note but attached to his back was a parachute. His wife while leaning out of the window, says to him, “Just can’t make a commitment to anything can you, Larry?” Although this is funny, it nonetheless is an accurate reflection of the present society we live in.
A major contributing factor to this decline in people’s level of commitment is due to the strong culture of individualism which has emerged post World War 2. Consequently, people don’t want to get involved and feel that all that matters is their relationship to Jesus, rather than their commitment to church. As a result, there has been a massive drop in church membership, most prefer to attend and be pew warmers without having to get seriously involved.
More than ever, the people of God need to be gripped by the truth of the importance of highly regarding the house of God. Paul expresses his reverence to God’s household by calling it: the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Yet this Pauline perspective of the church has fallen on hard times. As such, there desperately needs to be a change of the culture and climate of our churches. The members of the church need to renew their resolve for a nothing-held-back and all-out commitment to their local congregations.
Imagine if the body of Christ was as committed to each other as Olympians are to their respective sport. I heard one professional runner say: “No matter how bad things go, my heart, my mind, will carry my body when my limbs are too weak”. What would happen if we took this same unreserved level of commitment and thoroughly intended to apply it to our local church? There is no doubt such serious dedication would radically increase the spiritual temperature of our churches, not to mention the dynamic impact it would have on the wider community.
So what does an unreserved commitment to a local church look like on a practical level? The answer will invariably be different from person-to-person. This renewed commitment may mean taking on ministries or responsibilities which facilitate the using of your spiritual gifts. It may mean being faithful to all the services, which could involve rescheduling, or even cancellation. It may mean getting to church on time and so getting all the clothes ironed and ready the night before. It may mean going to a working bee on Saturday morning and forfeiting your only morning to sleep in.
It may mean attending prayer meetings even though you are really tired from an exhausting day’s work. It may mean not rushing out the door after the benediction so you can encourage someone in their walk with the Lord. It may mean listening more attentively to the sermon and giving careful consideration how you will concretely apply it to your life. It may mean putting more money in the offering plate and going without on some superfluous wants. Whatever the cost – will you pay it –and be fully dedicated to your church.
May the desire of our hearts be to recommit to our local churches. Would to God this time- honoured virtue of commitment to the local church rise again, for edifying of the body itself and the advancement of the gospel.
Steven Kilner is married to Jodie and has three sons, they have an eight-year-old, a six-year-old and a three-year-old. They attend Canterbury Gardens Community Church. Steven is studying theology at PTC and Jodie is undertaking a diploma in Nursing.