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.
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.