Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chapter 9: The Discipline of Commitment

A few things we discussed from Chapter 9: The Discipline of Commitment

Avoiding Cruise Control:

‘As believers we need to be careful that we do not make a similar mistake. We can be committed to a set of Christian values or to a lifestyle of discipleship without being committed to God Himself. But Paul said, offer yourselves to God, and in doing that commit yourselves to the pursuit of holiness in order to please Him.’ Page 149

We thought this was quite a challenge. It is easy to slip into ‘Cruise control’, as mentioned in chapter 7. Its easy to hold to a set of Christian values, or uphold a certain level of ‘Christian lifestyle’, or conform to the Christian culture around us or in our church, without truly being committed to God himself and pleasing Him. What level of holiness does God require? What is our motive for seeking holiness? Are we offering ourselves as living sacrifices as Romans 12:1 calls for ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.’ We should not let the peer pressure of our particular Christian culture hold us back from pursuing holiness and committing ourselves to God, Even if it means challenging the status quo.

Put on Christian Virtues:
‘If we want to be like Christ in his character we must commit ourselves to putting on His virtues’. Page 154 We often work and pray for Gods help in putting off our sins, but do we pray for him to help us put on the fruits of the spirit? Maybe we are unbalanced in concentrating on the ‘do not’s’ whilst neglecting the ‘dos’. ‘And just as we need to make a commitment to deal with all sin in our lives without exception, so we need to make a commitment to be just as diligent in putting on the fruit of the spirit.’ Page 154

This attitude should effect our whole lives. ‘The truth is, though, God knows I am a Christian and He knows I work for a Christian organization. If I would be ashamed to have a tourist identify my impatient driving with a Christian, how much more should I be ashamed before God. After all, He is the one I have committed myself to, to seek to please in all my thoughts and words and actions. So our commitment to pursue holiness must embrace every area of life and must include both the significant and the seemingly insignificant things we do.’ Page 155 As Jerry said ‘This principle applies to the way a student approaches his or her studies, to the way we do our shopping and buying, to the way we compete in games and athletics to the way we decorate our houses and keep our lawns, and even to the way we drive.’ Page 155 We should intend to live every area of our lives in such a way that it glorifies God.

What Model do we present?:
This also leads us to think about our lives at home, and how we live before our children. What model do we present to our children in the way we live our lives? Are we living before our children with integrity in a way that pleases God? Do we walk humbly before our children, so that whilst they see that we sin, they see that it is not our intention to sin. We should try to help our children see that the standard we are reaching for and teaching them is not ‘our’ standard but it is Gods perfect standard.

The importance of the Gospel of grace:
‘So we see once again the relationship of grace and discipline. A loving response to God’s grace and mercy is the only motive acceptable to God for the commitment Paul called for. And it is the continual reminding ourselves of His grace and mercy that provides the only enduring motivation to sustain such a commitment and keep it from becoming oppressive. That is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.’ Page 162 A right understanding of the gospel is so important in our Christian lives. Believing that you chose Christ; that it was your work in choosing to accept the offer of salvation that saved you, does not produce the gratitude in our heart that we feel when we understand that salvation was all the work of God’s grace and mercy alone. If we believe we chose Him we feel that we had some part in our own salvation, and we are partly grateful to ourselves for accepting it, not just to God for offering it. Understanding Grace changes our motives, we are grateful because we understand that without Gods grace and mercy we could not be saved, we could not save ourselves. We try to please God because we love Him and are grateful that he showed us such amazing mercy and grace. We pursue holiness, not because we think it will make us closer to Him or keep us from ‘back sliding’ or even because it is the ‘right’ way for a ‘Christian’ to behave, but because we want to.

“So an all-out, unreserved, nothing-held-back commitment to the pursuit of holiness may be exhausting, but it will not be oppressive it is grounded in grace. But to be grounded in grace it must be continually referred back to the gospel.” Page 162

“God not only asks us to commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness, but provides the grace to enable us to do it.” Page 162

‘Run, John, run. The law commands
But gives neither feet nor hands
Better news the gospel brings;
It bids me fly and gives me wings.’ Page 94

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