Sunday, 2 July 2017

Commitment - a way of life

Many people in today's world do not see a need to put themselves into something so thoroughly that they do not deter from the goal that has been set.  We can see that in the modern career path.  In previous generations a person chose a career and was in that career until their dying day.  Today, the likelihood is that the majority of people will have anything between 10-12 times if you are from an older generation, newer generations consider changing careers and jobs approximately every three years. We can perhaps sometimes see this within our churches and parishes if we number count.  When we do look closely at faith the journey we take is not as pliable and faith jumping or church jumping is not something we should be looking at.  Rather we have a different standard and that is the constancy of God in our lives.  If this is realised then we should be looking at a constant, persistent and committed journey not one that is looking to change direction every five minutes.  We need to look to Abraham to see this commitment worked out (Gen. 22.1-14).

We may find it wrong to think of the story of Abraham and Isaac as a good model.  How can God ask for something so horrendous as this sacrifice?  We can see all the wrong things about this but do we actually see what it is telling us about making ourselves sacred.  At the end of our service each week we offer ourselves as "living sacrifices", that is our prayer and yet we are not fully committed to this.  To be sacred is to be an offering to God, just as Abraham was asked to make of Isaac, a living sacrifice to God.  In taking up our roles as Christians we are baptised into Christ's death and resurrection, not only his death.  Yet behind this offering of ourselves and Abraham's offering of Isaac there flows on thing that we need to take cognisance of and that is the word "commitment".  Abraham has committed himself to God, he has made himself sacred in his actions.  He has laid down his wishes to take up the cross that is God's call upon his life.  God tests this vocation by demanding obedience and acknowledgment of God's presence.  If we are to shirk the command of God God is no longer with us.  If we are to make ourselves living sacrifices we must undertake all that God requires of us.

George Segal's sculpture captures the sacrifice; are we as prepared as Abraham?

Matthew tells us that Christ asks us to "receive him" (10.40) and so we receive God into our presence.  If that means we must let go something of ourselves than this is what we must do.  God gives to us more than what we have let go.  God gives us more when we let go.  It is not be grasping that we gain but by giving fully of ourselves, making a sacrifice of our lives to God.  Anyone who has seen Kung Fu Panda 3 knows what happens when we take too much.  In parish and Church life we often want more than we are prepared to give to achieve that which we think we desire.  It is only when we give of ourselves and commit to that giving do we start to see the fruit of God's grace in our lives.  In becoming leaders within our community we need to understand that we need to give before we can receive the benefits of our community's interaction with us.

Our community cannot know us unless we begin to give of ourselves.  In opening ourselves up we are offering ourselves to Christ and thus to God.  Matthew goes on to state that offering a "cup of water" to one of the little ones will not go unrewarded (Matt. 10.42).  What cups of water are we offering to the community around us?  The simplicity of the act opens us up and creates a space for sacred interaction and holiness.  It is not about our own needs but the needs of others.  We have the freedom to act on God's call or not, that is what God gives to us.  In taking and acting on God's call we should be committing ourselves to a life that is lived in Christ.  A commitment that is or should be a commitment seen in the actions of Abraham.  Even when we think that the act is going to be wrong, when we believe that the act is going to be detrimental, when we believe that the act is going to diminish us that is when we renew our commitment to God for if God calls us we need to respond.  We have offered ourselves, we have committed ourselves to becoming sacred, a sacrifice to God.

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