Pick-and-Mix Commitment

By Not Known

One Christian writer has written ‘The fear of commitment is epidemic in the western world’. What is true of the western world is probably true of much of the rest of the world. Certainly there is a lack of commitment in areas where commitment was previously expected.

There is lack of commitment in marriage and family life. Many marriages now end in divorce. There is a lack of commitment in working life. It is rare now for people to stay in the same company or job for years or even a lifetime as used to be the case. There is a lack of commitment to society and voluntary work. Organisations like the Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade and Scouts find it difficult to get leaders who will voluntarily give of their time. Even when it comes to church, there is often a lack of commitment to one church or denomination as in the past. We like to move around to find the church that suits us.

Commitment has become something that we choose to fit our needs and convenience and timing. It is a kind of pick-and-mix commitment.

Jesus’ words on commitment (Luke 14:26) sound quite alien in this sort of climate. They are like words from another world. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple”  It is also easy to have a pick-and-mix attitude to scripture and concentrate on the verses we like and ignore those that are difficult and challenging.  This verse is one of the most uncomfortable sayings of Jesus. We see that he is not interested in being popular and having large congregations. He is looking for real commitment. These words must have thinned out the crowd a bit.

Jesus of course is not talking literally about hating our family members or about physically bearing a cross. He is using striking metaphors to remind us of the nature of real commitment. It must be complete. It takes priority over the closest human family relationship, and this can be painful and challenging. It must also be calculated, like the man who built the tower. Jesus doesn’t want half hearted and unfinished commitment. Commitment must also be continuous. Baptism and confirmation are life-time commitments. They are not just moments in our life or just a service.  So we see that real commitment is costly. It is more than just our choice, more than a matter of pick and mix. It is a matter of meeting Jesus’ terms and responding to his call. And he offers no false expectations, no discounts, no bargains, no cheap offers of faith. He offers us costly discipleship and cross-bearing.

Derek Kingston