Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They'll stay faithful as long as it's safe and doesn't involve risk, rejection or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going. ~ Charles Stanley
As Christians, we all expect to go to heaven. Many of us, however, think what we do here isn't nearly as important as what comes after. If we feel sick or defeated, we shrug and say, "Oh, well. Heaven will be better." And of course, it will. But I'd like to ask you a question. When you get there, is God going to say to you, "Well... ?" or "Well done!"
There's much more to the Christian life here on earth than just going to church on Sundays and living a defeated life Monday through Saturday. It takes committed Christians to bring heaven's riches - wealth, health, deliverance of every kind - into earth's reality. In essence, God has 'sown' us into the devil's domain (which he stole through Adam), expecting us to 'have dominion'. We are here to take back the territory and demonstrate God's goodness on earth. However, much like the parable of the sower in Mark 4, Christians have varying degrees of effectiveness against the devil's wiles.
And some seed fell by the wayside... (Mark 4:4). It's easy to be a casual Christian. "Yeah, I believe in God. Bible study? Nah, I don't really have time for that." A casual Christian is head-believing, not heart-believing. Understanding that God is does not affect his daily life to any great degree. Instead, he lives like the rest of the world, letting the circumstances run rough-shod over his life. In essence, there's no relationship, no commitment, and therefore, no faith. A casual Christian is merely an acquaintance of God's. He has a 'hi, how ya doin' - see ya later' mentality. He might wave at God if He was walking down the street, but they'd never get together over a cup of coffee.
And some fell on stony ground where it had not much earth... and because it had no root, it withered away (v.6-7). A complacent Christian isn't much more powerful than a casual Christian. She goes to church, prays and tries to be 'good', but when circumstances bombard her life, she sighs and says, "I guess God doesn't want me to have that... get rid of that... overcome that." She and God share coffee and conversation, but she doesn't want to burden God with her problems or expect too much from Him. "After all, you never know what God will do," is her response to life's challenges. She feels comforted by her time with God, but there's no depth to the relationship.
And some fell among thorns... and yielded no fruit (v.7). A (self) condemned Christian is like a kid who knows he's been bad. He walks around, head down, with an 'I'm just a poor sinner' mentality. No matter what good things might be happening, he focuses on the negative. "Poor me!" he opines to anyone who will listen. He believes there is a God, but expects Him to drop the hammer, so to speak. He is full of guilt and condemnation, which often surfaces as anger and bitterness. He might cry and whine to God, but doesn't really believe God will answer because 'I don't deserve it'. Keep in mind, God didn't condemn him; he did it to himself by not knowing or accepting the salvation Jesus already paid to give him.
A compromising Christian is the proverbial fence-sitter. Much like the complacent Christian, he believes, until life's circumstances sway his thinking. He is double-minded, up one minute and down the next. "I believe I'm healed!" he shouts, but when another pain comes, he wonders why and begins to fret about the circumstances. "Why, God, why?" he asks, letting go of his faith when the going gets tough. James said, "Let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord" (v. 1:7).
When the disciples asked Jesus how to do what He called them (and us) to do, He had a simple answer. Jesus replied, "This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on and have faith in His Messenger]" (John 6:29 AMP). Later, Paul explained that we are God's ambassadors, Christ's personal representatives. He pleaded to the church members at Corinth, "Do not receive the grace of God in vain... do not receive it to no purpose" (2 Cor. 6:1 AMP).
A committed Christian has a deep, personal relationship with God. We not only know that He is, we trust His Word as final authority in our lives. Thy Word is truth (John 17:17). Like the good ground in Mark's account of the Sower, we take heed what we hear (v. 4:24) and bring forth fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred (v. 20).
Jesus, when He faced down the devil after 40 days in the wilderness, said "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). The Bible is that Word. We read, study, meditate, and accept those printed words as the very Voice of Jesus. To the best of our ability, we take the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to withstand in the evil day and, having done all, to stand (Eph. 6:13).
Like Jesus, we believe His Word despite any circumstances we face. When the Bible says, "by His stripes we were healed" (I Peter 2:24), we take that Word and stand on it, calling those things that be not as though they were (Rom. 4:17). "I am healed because God said so!" we shout, despite any physical evidence to the contrary. "Satan, you cannot kill, steal or destroy my life because I am God's! Take your hands off my body (finances, family, or whatever else he is attacking to try to get you to back down)."
God calls us blessed, healed, rich and overcomers so that's what we need to call ourselves. How long do we persevere? Until we see the salvation of the LORD (2 Chron. 20:17). In other words, we take the Word of God, our spiritual Sword, and keep fighting until we win!
The Apostles trusted God through everything they faced. Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people... and they stoned Stephen as he called upon God (Acts 6:8, 7:59). His faith never wavered, even in the face of great pain and death. Peter's prison chains fell off his hands. Paul survived shipwreck and imprisonment. Joseph spent years in bondage before he saw his dream, the dream God gave him, come to pass.
God wants commitment, not acquaintance. When He designed the earth to be home for His kids, He made everything very good. He didn't leave out any detail as insignificant. Why? Because He was committed to our welfare. He wanted us to be able to say, Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity], and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard (Is. 58:8 AMP). Satan stole Adam and Eve's commitment through deception, but God's commitment never wavered.
He stayed committed to the Israelites, even with all their grumbling and complaining. He was faithful to Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Noah (to name a few) and Jesus. The faith chapter (Hebrews 11), however, explains that His powerhouse Patriarchs were also faithful far above what most people will commit to today. Sarah was more than nine decades old when she had Isaac. Noah spent years building an ark when the world at that time had never seen rain. Abraham left home, family and all that he knew to go who knew where - simply because God said so.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded by them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. 11:13). Their faith extended into the future, believing in the resurrection that was and is still to come.
Jesus, our ultimate example, was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. During His earthly ministry, He spoke and GOOD happened - the lame walked, the blind saw, lepers were cleansed, storms ceased, the deaf heard and dead men were raised up (See Matt. 11:5). We read those stories and think, "Amazing! How wonderful!" But Jesus also said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works that these shall he do, because I go unto My Father" (John 14:12). That takes a committed Christian.
The good news is we can become all God wants us to be. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in His Name (John 1:12). All it takes is commitment. As sons and daughters of the Most High, we have been given the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to become lights in a dark world, dispensing help, healing and hope to those around us.
Commitment is a choice. It requires us to give up something of ourselves to accomplish Kingdom objectives. It requires our time, effort and dedication until we can honestly 'believe only' without fear or doubt. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass (Ps. 37:5). Are you willing to become a more committed Christian? Jesus guaranteed it will be worth it.