|Frank Wright, Ph.D.
President & CEO
When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions, he took a bold step to ensure the success of his military venture. Ordering his men to march to the edge of the Cliffs of Dover, he commanded them to look down at the water below.
To their utter amazement, they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off the possibility of retreat. Unable to return to the continent, there was nothing left to do but advance and conquer. And that is exactly what they did. Veni, vidi, vici. They came, they saw, they conquered. These ancient Romans were truly committed to the task before them.
This was no less true of the early Christian martyrs. Those who entered the dreaded arena had only to say two words and they could live: Kaiser Kurios. Caesar is Lord. Instead they proclaimed: Jesus Kristus Kurios—Jesus Christ is Lord—and paid for the privilege with their blood.
Commitment this weighty, this radical, seems almost alien in the North American church today. Yet commitment is at the very foundation of what it means to be a Christian.
Commitment, of course, must have an object. We must be committed to something.
The definition of true Christian commitment that I like best is this: identification with both the person and purposes of Jesus Christ.
In our day, many people identify with the person of Jesus Christ. The Gallup Poll reveals that 81% of Americans call themselves Christians. It is the second part of our definition—identification with the purposes of Jesus Christ—that creates the great divide.
Put another way, many people are willing to accept Jesus as Savior, but in these latter days, far fewer are willing to accept Him as Jesus Kristus Kurios.
Accepting Christ as Savior, of course, involves both faith and personal repentance. We must see ourselves as we are—sinners in need of a Savior. When we recognize our need for forgiveness, we may then see that God has offered us His perfection and His forgiveness through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Yet how easy it would be to accept Christ as our Savior, if He made no claims on our lives. Many people want just that. They want forgiveness for sin but would just as soon live their lives as they please. But Jesus gave us no such luxury. He said, “If you love me, keep my commands.”
Alexander MacLaren, the great Scottish theologian said, “The meaning of being a Christian is that in response for the gift of a whole Christ, I give my whole self to Him.”
Having trusted In Christ, we have an obligation to serve Him.
Corrie Ten Boom, who suffered for years in a Nazi concentration camp, put it this way: “It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability that counts.” That is, it’s not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us.
We must also remember that true Christian commitment is not a question of accomplishment but of obedience. Mother Theresa once said, “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.”
God doesn’t want our success; He wants our commitment. He doesn’t demand our achievements; He demands our obedience.
Jesus called the early church to follow Him. And follow they did, for not too many years later, the leading citizens of Thessalonica would complain about the arrival of Paul and Silas by saying, “These that have turned the world upside down have come here also.”
These were followers of Jesus Christ who knew the real meaning of commitment. Let it be so with us as well.