A regular part of my weekly worship is time spent praying on Wednesday afternoons with my friends at The Chapel Online. Each week Anne Bosarge leads a time of prayer for and with people around the world. Yesterday, the passage of scripture shared was from Matthew 16:24-27. What stood out to me from this text was the level of commitment that Jesus is asking for from those who would follow after him.

Take a look at the passage:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Deny yourself…take up your cross…follow me…

Those words struck me to the core. Jesus isn’t asking for my “spiritual allegiance,” Jesus isn’t asking for my “mental assent” to his lordship, and Jesus isn’t asking for me to be a member or a friend. Jesus is asking for a total commitment of my life to his purpose. To put down my many commitments to take up my cross. To lose my life so that I can find it. Jesus is asking for my full commitment. My full submission to his will and purpose for my life, for the Kingdom, and the whole of creation.

This Sunday is Commitment Sunday, the day when we bring to the altar our prayerfully considered financial commitments for the coming year. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t share with you that Jesus is interested in more than just your finances and your financial commitment to the church. Jesus is asking us all for our total commitment to him—as our Savior and as our Lord.

Jesus, our Savior, saves us from sin and death by his atoning work on the cross—that work is complete in and for all who have committed their lives to him. But making Jesus our Lord takes two things: Time and Submission. Jesus’ Lordship requires the daily task of taking up our cross and submitting our will to God. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable as the Holy Spirit shows us places in our lives where our allegiance is divided, places where we need the Spirit’s sanctifying work to continue because the root of sin remains within us.

This Sunday, as we make our commitments, my prayer is that as we come to the altar we would commit our whole self to loving and serving God—that we would lay down our lives to take hold of true life in Jesus. After all, when the Son of Man comes in the Father’s glory we will be rewarded based on what we have done—how we have responded.

Have you responded to Jesus’ call with a full commitment to God? If you haven’t yet made that commitment, then I’d love to talk with you about what it means to commit yourself to Jesus Christ. If you have made that commitment, then ask God to show you where God would use you to make a difference for him.

God bless,
Jonathan Smith
For Jesus. For People. For Community.