Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Commitments - and being Worshipful

Pundits say we live in a low commitment culture – but we constantly bump up against evidences of commitments.  There’s a ring on your finger.  There’s a contract to be signed.  The mortgage bill arrives.   It’s time to show up for work again.  I can’t meet you because I have a lunch date already.  We are our commitments.  Our true freedom is exercised, not in willy-nilly doing whatever the heck that suits me in the next 5 minutes, but in making and honoring commitments.

   Consider all the commitments made in worship.  Parents make promises when their children are baptized.  New members take vows.  Every discrete act of worship is a promise – to live as forgiven, thankful people once we’ve left the place.  People flit from church to church, forgetting we make commitments to a church family.  And of course, we have weddings.

   My anniversary is tomorrow.  Lisa and I made promises – not merely to each other, but to God, and to our families, and to the church.  Like all who make any kind of commitment, we didn’t fully understand what it would mean to live out those promises.  We might have predicted how it would all unfold, but our forecasts would have been wrong.  You make commitments, then grow into them, struggle through them – and inevitably too many of our commitments wind up fractured.  We need mercy.  We need a power beyond ourselves to stick with those we’re stuck with.

   Worship teaches us how to make and keep commitments – largely because worship is about God.  Lewis Smedes shrewdly wrote, “Yes, somewhere people still make and keep promises.  They choose not to quit when the going gets rough.  They stick to lost causes.  They hold on to a love grown cold.  They stay with people who have become pains in the neck.  They still dare to make promises and care enough to keep the promises they make.  I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God.”

   And thus, we worship God out there through living into and even surviving the commitments we have made – buoyed by our humble awareness of God’s total commitment to us.