GOING BEYOND… With Commitment Text: 2 Cor. 1:19:
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.”
Observe very carefully.
See what I have in my hand? (A balloon.)
See what I’m doing with it? (Blow it up.)
See what is written on this balloon? (The word ‘yes.’) Now watch what I’m going to do. (Let the balloon go.) I wonder if you can figure out the point of that illustration I just made.
Sometimes a “yes” can be nothing more than…. What? Hot air!
Take King Henry VIII for example.
Know anything about King Henry the VIII, King of England back in the 1500’s?
Probably the most famous thing about him was that he had six wives!
One by one, he said “yes” to each one of those brides.
He promised to love, honor, and cherish them, and to remain faithful to them, until death parted them.
But, one by one, with each wife, what happened?
It wasn’t very long until he also said a decisive “no.”
Two wives he divorced, two he ordered to be executed, when their marriage to the King became inconvenient to him.
Henry VIII’s “yes” – at least in the matter of matrimony– didn’t amount to much more than a bunch of …. What?
Do you ever get frustrated with politicians when they are being interviewed on TV?
The interviewer tries to pin the politician down.
- “What is your policy on this issue?”
- “What action step are you going to take on this matter?”
- “Where do you stand on this topic?”
But the politician responds by saying something like: “Well, first let me say this….”
And then he or she will go on to give a side-stepping, convoluted answer that leaves a lot of wiggle and maneuvering room to pursue whatever options are the candidate’s best interests.
Well, our “Yes”, when we give it, must not be merely hot air in an inflated balloon.
Our “Yes”, when we give it, needs to be firmly asserted, something solid that we and others can count on.
To decide to marry, one should be definite… and not just almost certain.
To lead a nation, state, or community, the candidate must tell the people what he promises to do, and where he or she definitely wants to take them.
nd …to be a follower of Jesus Christ, a believer must be able to say:
“Yes, Lord, you are my King. Yes, Lord, I trust in you, and, in faith, I will definitely honor you and serve you, with the help you promise to give.”
Now, what is prompting this discussion today?
Well, some time ago our congregation decided that this was going to be “Commitment Weekend” for the “Going Beyond, Finishing Strong” campaign in our congregation.
It is a campaign to ask people to prayerfully consider giving beyond their regular offerings to help reduce the substantial debt we have on our wonderful facilities, in, in so doing, help the overall mission and ministry of our church and school.
Hopefully, you got a commitment card in the mail a couple of weeks ago. There are extras available at church.
Obviously, circumstances have changed dramatically in the last couple of weeks,
If you didn’t get a chance to bring a commitment card this week, and are moved to make a commitment, you can bring the card anytime in the future.
And clearly, with all the events happening in our world and our nation right now, we don’t know for sure the AMOUNT of financial resources the Lord will bless us with this year.
If you want to pledge a specific AMOUNT, clearly if your circumstances change, the AMOUNT of your pledge might have to change, too.
As we heard the Apostle Paul say in last week’s epistle reading:
“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person HAS, not according to what he does NOT have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12)
And yet, even when our circumstances change, and even when there is a lot of economic nervousness in our society, to make a commitment is a bold statement of FAITH that we are sure that the Lord, in his grace, for Jesus’ sake, WILL provide for us what we need. So we will give to His kingdom our first-fruits—the first and best of what He gives to us– regularly, in proportion to what he has given, even if the AMOUNTS have to vary because our income has varied.
Now, I must confess that sometimes as a pastor I feel a bit queezy on any occasion when we talk about money in church.
Because I’ve already been a pastor enough years to know that some people, no matter how infrequently the subject actually comes up, are inevitably going to say:
“There they go, talking about money again. That’s all they ever want– my money.”
After a while, in honesty, a pastor (at least THIS one) gets a little gun shy about the topic.
But actually, this is not REALLY a sermon about money.
You know what it’s about?
It’s about … commitment!
It’s about whether, in our lives as Christians—regardless of our involvement in this particular campaign– we will have clearly stated “Yes’s” and “No’s.”
You know, we don’t do each other any good in the Body of Christ if we imply that our lives in following Jesus won’t have a practical impact on what we do, what we say, how we spend our time, our effort, and our money.
We do each other no favors if we never call upon each other to think through what it means to have Christ as our King, not just in abstract theology, but in our calendar book, our wallet, what we do in our homes, and in our public witness throughout the week—especially in uncertain times.
Maybe some people these days are looking at Christians to see whether in the extreme circumstances we’re facing we really do believe what we SAY we believe, whether we really will continue to trust, and love, and serve our neighbors, and give of ourselves, when so many others are focused primarily on their own immediate needs.
Without seeing our ongoing commitment, they could easily conclude that this Christianity thing is just a charade– a bunch of hot air– and that Christ is no real King at all.
So, this is a topic we should think about not just in connection with a specific campaign, but frequently!
It’s good to be challenged with the question:
Is my “yes” to God—spoken by my parents and sponsors at my Baptism, later spoken publicly by me at my confirmation and on many other occasions– is my “yes” really a “yes”?
Or is it just a “maybe, if things go the way I hope?”
You now, the amazing thing to me is that Christ, our King, doesn’t DEMAND this kind of process or response from us.
Jesus is not a Middle Eastern Potentate who orders his people to love him and serve him and bring him what he wants and jump when he says jump, and then does terrible things to them if they don’t.
No, this King of ours DEMANDS nothing from us.
He just … gives!
He just serves us, even unto death on a cross.
He just loves, and forgives, and offers eternal life as a gift to all who trust in him as their one and only Savior from sin, and death, and hell.
He DEMANDS no commitments from us whatsoever!
And for that very reason, we are moved to give them.
We are moved by our amazement at his wondrous grace.
We are moved by the love we have for this King who wants nothing more from his subjects than to give them all the riches of his Kingdom, at no cost except to himself, that they might know the joy of his presence and peace, and the satisfaction of serving in this world and sharing his life-saving Word, and the certainty of a life that goes on with him forever and ever.
Yes, instead of following in the footsteps of Henry VIII, you follow a King whose decisions did not change with the blowing of the wind.
He said “Yes,” when Pontius Pilate asked him whether he was our King, even though he knew it would bring only a crown of thorns, and a scepter of nails, and throne of blood-stained wood.
He said “Yes” to his Bride the church, and as a result, with the commitment of his blood, cleansed her from every spot and wrinkle and blemish of sin, that she might be a radiant Bride, pure and holy and beautiful before God.
Our King said ‘Yes’ to you and to me, and poured out everything he had for us.
As poet J. S. Borland exclaims:
He had no place to lay his head,
He who was born a King;
Yet, foxes had a resting place
And birds their sheltering.
He had no place to lay his head
While others calmly slept;
He on the darksome mountainside
A lonely vigil kept.
He had no place to lay his head
Except upon a tree.
Erected by unwitting hands
On shameful Calvary.
But I’ve a place to lay my head,
Thanks to the cross he bore;
And to the platted, painful crown
Of thorns he quietly bore.
I lay my head upon his breast
And hear him sweetly say—
Thy many sins are all forgiv’n;
Peace shall be yours always.”
Fellow subjects of that King, St. Paul tells us:
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you…was not Yes and No; but in Him it is always Yes” (2 Cor. 1:19).
So, with commitment, especially in a time such as this, we say:
Yes, Lord Jesus, you are OUR King!
Yes, Lord Jesus, YES!