Friday, September 14, 2012

Love is Committed

Commitment is a rapidly declining term these days.  I like statistics so put your boots on, we're gonna be jumping in a few rain puddles here.  Of marriages that start with people between the age of 20-24, 37% end in divorce.  America's divorce rate is the second highest of any country and twice as high as the world average.  2/3 of people in their 20's think living together is a good way to avoid divorce, resulting in a 10 percent higher percentage of divorces (of those who actually get married) than those who did not live together.  12% of couples who live together nationwide are not married.  Ben Courson, said in September 9th teaching, "We are a generation of quitters.  We think that quitting is going to make us happy.  That's why the divorce rates are absurd!" 

This cultural phenomena crosses to many other areas as well.  The average job in America these days has dropped to 5 years, mostly due to promotions, life changes, and the job becoming mundane.  More and more songs and movies and TV shows these days represent couples living together before marriage, or support uncommitted relationships.  "How I Met Your Mother" is a show I like to watch, but just watching it points out all of the cultural ideas that have seeped into our lives.  Dating for dating sake; Sleeping together as a emotional prize, not a commitment; Living together as a norm.  It's easy to see how if we continue to let culture surround our day, Christianity's call to holiness becomes blurred.  It has the ability to distract us from what we're called to be, and lure us to such fruits as pride, selfishness, sexual immorality, etc. 

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

It's a dangerous line to walk! Immersing yourself in the culture so that you fit in, or because you like it, has a tendency to change our values, thus changing our heart, changing our minds, changing our words, our actions, and ultimately our lives.  It's like a new snowboarder on the bunny slope who hasn't quite mastered the brakes and once going just continues on faster and faster until they ultimately bail out and crash.  A wise Lorax once asked, "Which way does a tree fall? A tree falls whichever way it is leaning.  Be careful which way you lean."  You can see how culture has affected Christianity just by looking at the differences in generations at our churches.  It has become more about the visual and emotional appeal than the life changing appeal; more about the type of worship than the lyrics and meaning themselves; more about going to church to benefit ourselves rather than those sitting around us. 

I currently started reading "Why Holiness Matters" by Tyler Braun and couple quotes stuck out to me right from the beginning.  "Somehow we've bought the lie that if we are our good Christian selves enough of the time, God will have mercy on us and take us to heaven.  He does love us with an unending grace, right? So we choose to stay as immature Christian believers who go to church to hear great music and be convicted by great teaching." Just a paragraph later he writes, "We've bought into the lie of the total and complete Christian message being that we're sinners and God, through his great love, saved us.  Christianity then becomes just something we accept, nothing else.  It doesn't take much to simply believe in Jesus.  In fact, that doesn't cost us anything.  But following Jesus, that's another matter."

And that's ultimately what Jesus calls from us isn't it? He didn't go up to his disciples and say "accept me". NO! He goes up to them time after time and says "follow me".  You can't follow Jesus and have your actions continually following the cultural whims.  Your actions have a tendency to follow your heart.  Is your heart committed to Jesus and His word? or are you just going to church because you feel guilty when you don't? Because you grew up that way? Because you are afraid of failing someone? failing yourself?

Take a moment and honestly think about that one for a minute and began to introspect on your life.  It's so easy to let culture affect our lives and not be aware of the issues it's causing within us. 

May we be a generation acting out of humility and grace and love and holiness, constantly asking the Lord to unharden and search our calloused hearts.  And my prayer today is that we would listen and ask the Lord to change the things which we need to change, and begin to commit again to our first love, Jesus Christ.