Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Empowerment and Commitment

This week’s column is the last of our church’s “key characteristics”, as outlined in our church constitution. So far, we have covered our vision statement, and the characteristics of faith, family, growth, caring, and equality. This week we will discuss “empowerment and commitment.” Our constitution reads;

Empowerment and Commitment: Like our very salvation, our service for Christ is possible only because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Yet, by grace, God has made us partners with the Spirit in sharing the gospel and building the kingdom. Therefore, we are a committed people. We commit ourselves to the faithful stewardship of our church, our time, our resources, our spiritual gifts-in short, everything we have-so that we might serve Christ faithfully.

In the business world, empowerment was a “buzz word” that gained popularity in the 1980’s. Many companies found that they were much more efficient and customer friendly, when they gave some decision-making authority to lower level employees. This made the employees feel more important, and speeded up customer service issues. Many successful companies have built their entire businesses on this concept.

In Christian life, we have ultimate empowerment. We are given the power to do as we please. Paul speaks repeatedly of “freedom in Christ.” However, we also have an obligation to God and to others, who we influence, to refrain from those things that harm our ability to influence for good. As one of my seminary professors said, “The shark is the most feared predator of the sea. He is free to do as he pleases. However, if you take him out of the water, he’s just a dead shark.”

When we are “in Christ”, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do His will. When we are living outside the will of God, we are just dead, like a beached shark. Empowerment only comes from the Holy Spirit to us and we must use it to further God’s kingdom. The wonderful thing to know is that the same power that created the universe, gives us power to do His will.

The second part of this characteristic is commitment. I received an e-mail from Verizon Wireless last week. They informed me that I am now qualified for a new phone, since I have had this one for two years. For those of you who are not Verizon customers, they have a program called, “New Every Two”. Every two years, you can upgrade your phone. Many of the upgrades are free.

That’s a great program, except for the fact that I don’t need a new phone. Mine is working quite well. However, I found myself looking at the great new phones I can get for free!

There are many aspects of life where we have given up on commitment. Serving Christ shouldn’t be one of them. Our church constitution mentions that we should commit our time, resources, spiritual gifts and talents, and everything else to the work of the church. Not only should we do those things, we should do them tirelessly, with a loving and serving attitude.

Commitment is never easy. Nine-time World Champion rodeo cowboy, Ty Murray once said, “Commitment isn’t the time you spend, it’s a line you cross. It’s the difference between sitting on an angry bull, and having your hand roped to his back.” In the book, No Fear: Don’t Let Your Fears Stand in the Way of Your Dreams, Rick Bolton writes, “It’s the look in the cowboy’s eyes as he nods his approval for the gate to swing open. That’s when we first sense the line he crosses between the relative safety of the chute and the uncertainty of the arena. We still can’t see it, but that line exists. It is the point of no return.”

Are you that committed to Christ? Have you been to the place where you are fixed on serving Him, no matter what? Make the commitment to live for Him unconditionally. Only then, will you find the true joy of salvation and fellowship with our Creator.

Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-15 NIV)


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