Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.

Philippians 1: 27

This is a description of what it means to be a follower of Christ in the modern world. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the current date is in the first century of the Christian Era or in its twenty-first century. The day, month, and year in which Christians find themselves living is a time when there will be pressures applied upon that person’s faith in Christ and adherence to the gospel so that the ability to stand up in the face of those forces will be in question. This world can be a harsh and a challenging place to live. There are real and highly active forces in it that are seeking to overthrow the gospel of Christ at every turn, and their target for this attempted coup against the King of the Universe is each and every person that gives their life to Christ as Lord and Savior.

In his process of waging war against Christ, Satan attacks both individual followers and the church. So, we must be prepared to stand up to these assaults by virtue of our deep commitment to Christ and submission to His will and by seeking to be of one mind with other followers of Christ as we gather as His church. Now there is no doubt in my mind that any gathered body of people will see many things differently, one from others. Yet, we can know the same Christ, be led by one Spirit, and submit to the singular Word of God. Then our strength comes through the unity that is hard won and thoroughly worked out by the process of living out together the challenges of life. Christ is fully committed to His church, and we are asked by Him to respond by being fully committed to seeking unity by and in His Spirit.

Paul’s joy and pleasure at hearing about the way that people in Philippi and in other places where he has shared the gospel of Christ are living as upright followers of that message of righteousness, love, and enduring faith reflects Christ’s feelings upon the same response in all of His people. Christ, Himself, is delighted when we lean into Him for strength, encouragement, and wisdom as we engage with the powers and forces in our world that are attempting to overthrow our faith and shatter the fellowship of belief that Christ has formed. In Christ we can find the singularity of purpose that overcomes all forms of difference. The Spirit works among us to focus our hearts and minds in on the redemptive message of that gospel and to make our points of disagreement into issues and concerns that can be set aside for the sake of standing together as we live out our faith in the world and before its eyes as a testimony to Christ.   

Commit your way to the LORD;

   trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

   and your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 37: 5, 6

Commitment is not an easy thing to have or to receive from others. We may say that we are committed to something, to a cause or a relationship, but actual follow through on those words is something very different from the profession of that intent. Commitment means that there is nothing that will deflect or deter a person from living out the promise given. Commitment is all-consuming as it is related to the subject of that promise. God is committed to His Creation in a way that resembles how a parent is usually fully focused upon its children. Unfortunately, people tend to make promises to God and then break or redirect them rather readily and with little regard for the impact that this turning away from God’s truth and His way of living may have on ourselves, upon others, or the grief and pain that it brings to God.

Even when we are less than fully on-board with God’s standard for how people should think, speak, and act, the Lord stays committed to us. We might wander far from His righteousness and even enter into a life that is deliberately lived outside of the camp of the holy; still, Christ will continue to pursue us and call us back into living inside of God’s way of truth. Christ’s presence with us in this journey through life is a blessing, and His righteousness equates to strength for those travels. The Lord gives us the gift of clarity and understanding so that the complex issues and situations that we do encounter will be illuminated by His Word with its unceasing supply of wisdom, counsel, and truth. The qualities of Godly wisdom are too often lacking in our world’s public and private discourse; yet, their presence does bring justice and peacemaking into the conversation.

God has not designed His relationship with people to be a one-sided affair, and He does not desire to force involvement or engagement in the nature and the course of that relationship upon anyone, either. Thus, it becomes important for us to also commit ourselves and our lives to living in close and intimate relationship with Christ. Such a commitment means that I have determined that there is no one and nothing else that is more important to me than is Christ. This places the truth of God’s Word above all other forms of guidance, direction, or counsel that I may encounter or receive. This way of living constitutes a promise of myself to service to Christ and to His kingdom purposes as my primary calling in life. Committing my way to Christ establishes His way of interacting with people as my way, and it eliminates all other views and approaches to engaging with people as invalid. Christ loves all, seeks justice for all others, and desires to enter into a relationship with everyone, and as a committed follower of Christ, so should I do likewise.

Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20: 7


Let me take a wild guess here, and state that very few of us use the word consecrate on a regular basis. This is simply not something that we think much about doing in the course of our days. Yet, it might be one of the most important things that any of us who desire to know and to follow God could do. To consecrate means to dedicate or to commit to something. It is usually used in religious settings so that the person or thing that is being consecrated is being committed to service in that setting. This idea strikes me as being very formal and even as rather archaic in light of the way that we live in the presence of Christ in our lives and with service to Him being something that we can do outside of the formal setting of the temple or the physical place that we call church.


Yet, when the Lord inspired Moses to write down this directive to the Israelites, I believe that God had something in mind that was much bigger than the formal aspects of religious practice. This simple, proverbial statement is embedded in a series of very strong comments on sinful behaviors and the direst consequences that were to be related to them. For the Israelites and for us, living a life that is holy, that is set apart from our world and from its rebellion against God’s righteousness, is the way and the means for us to escape the pain of those consequences. Even more important than that, it is the way that we can dwell in this world while bringing honor and glory to our God as we serve Him and reach that same world with Christ’s Gospel of truth and life.


So, this action of consecrating is something that each of us can and, I submit, should do. It is a mindful and purposeful endeavor on the part of each of us to step outside of the influence of the forces around us in our world, away from self-interest, to renounce nationalism as a religion, and to set aside all other forms of false religious allegiance and practice that we have adopted. Consecrating or purposefully setting ourselves apart is the first step, and it is followed by living out this deep commitment to Christ by means of thinking, speaking, and acting as a clear and outwardly visible follower of Jesus. This is not so easy to do if approval and acceptance by the world around us is of great importance. However, as we set aside the world’s concept of worth, power, and significance and enter into God’s view of the same things, we are empowered by Christ to live out our days as His consecrated workers who labor with holy hands in His fields of harvest.

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”

Joshua 3: 5


In his great song “Elijah” Rich Mullins speaks about the fact that “The Jordan is waiting.” Mullins used the river that faced Joshua and the people of Israel as a symbol of the enormity of what lies ahead for himself and for each of us as we seek to follow Christ in our world. The raging waters of that river were really only the smallest of the concerns that were there, and that is not different from what lies outside of our front doors every day. I know, for most of us there are no rushing torrents of bolder roiled water, not even one hungry lion, and very few actual spears and arrows pointed at us. However, there are opponents and they will mount opposition in many different forms. Some of them are giants indeed, who bring great force and power to bear against us as we confront their sacred places with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Like Joshua and the people that he led, we have a sacred duty to perform. Their task was considerably more important than just acquiring a place to settle down and conduct life. God gave them the responsibility to take back a portion of creation from the hands of evil. So, their mission was much greater than just settling the country, building homes, and raising families; it was even more important than entering into regular worship of the Lord. These followers of God were to dwell in this place in a manner that would bring the presence of the Living God into the midst of the other people of the earth. Their lives and the conduct of them was intended to draw people who were lost, wandering, and separated from God into His love, grace, and salvation. That is why the task before them was truly holy in its nature so that it required them to be prepared in body and in spirit to undertake it.


The place where Joshua and the Israelites were on that day is not all that different from the one where each of us who follows Christ is today. When we head out of the door at the start of a new day, we are not just going to a workplace, to school, out to meet a friend for coffee, or even just for a simple walk around our neighborhood. The land out there is not all that different from Canaan with its raging river and fortified walls, its armed opposition and seductive enticements. In Christ, we are all called upon to consecrate our days and ourselves to serving our Lord. For me this means that I seek out His will for this day, enter into prayer as the primary means of preparation for the journey, and set out with my heart and my mind intent upon listening to the Spirit and heeding His voice’s prompting every step along the way. This form of total commitment is never easy to hold onto, for the sound of the water is pounding in my ears as I open my doors. Yet, Christ speaks to me from deep inside where His Spirit dwells, and He calls me back into the surety of His loving will and the confidence that comes out of a heart that is consecrated to my Lord.

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5: 5


When we become totally and completely committed to something or to someone there exists a very real element of risk. For commitment should lead to an open proclamation of the relationship and the deliberate exclusion of contradictory ones; thus, it also puts us in a position where that decision is open to scrutiny and to question. As regards this aspect of life we are on public display and we are open to being challenged and questioned on the validity of that decision.


When we have placed our hope in the new car that we have purchased, we are guaranteed that there will be disappointment as it ages and its parts start to fail. When that hope is liked to our portfolio of stocks and other investments, well, maybe yours are doing better than mine; if so, do you have any tips for me? Our broken nature as people makes it certain that hope that is founded in human relationships will be tested and will disappoint. It seems that any time we creatures turn to the created as the foundation and the source of our hope we experience the sense of shame that is caused by disappointment, heartbreak and loss. This is the natural and the inevitable result of turning to that which is more readily understood and grasped, that is the creation, rather than surrendering our selves to the seemingly unknowable God, the Creator.


Yet, it is in and through this act of surrender that we become known. In Christ our true selves are revealed. A commitment to God is singular in the entire universe in that it is effected through a contract that was executed by another, by God Himself, paid for by Christ alone, and carried out through the on going actions of the Holy Spirit. The cure for the brokenness of all of creation is found in Christ; yet, God does not ask most of creation to respond to the great question of acceptance and surrender. That opportunity to risk all yet to gain everything through commitment to Christ is something that He grants only to the pinnacle of His creation. For it seems that God desires to pour His love out upon humanity; so, He seeks the opportunity to flood our hearts with His unbounded love. As we hope in Christ, His Spirit fills us with the love of God that sustains us through everything that we will encounter. It is this love that heals us and that makes us God’s agents of healing in the rest of creation.

This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 17: 3


Strive as we may to achieve eternal living whether it is through such healthy living as intense exercise, careful diet, and getting lots of sleep or should we try to live peacefully and calmly by meditation, contemplation, and other spiritual practices; in the end it will all fail without Christ. Many people claim to accept the existence of God. Some of them say that they actually know him. Yet, not so many really do know Him. The God that we seek to know is a very complex being; yet, He has made getting to that state of knowledge rather simple.


The one and only true God came out of His place in the heavens and surrendered the position that He held in order to engage with humanity directly and personally. It seems to be important to remember that God sent Jesus but that this same Jesus is also that one God. They are three persons of this very complex being, and we must know both God the Father and Jesus in order to actually be in relationship with God. Then we will be granted a relationship with the third person, the Holy Spirit. When people say that they can accept the fact that there is a god and that this god is the ancient God of the Bible, Yahweh, while rejecting Jesus as being that same God; according to God’s Word, they really do not know God. Jesus is the answer and the completion of all that was promised by God from the beginning of creation. When we leave Him out of our engagement with God, we are rejecting God’s full and complete Word.


As this is true for people who will not accept Jesus as God, it is also functionally true for people who have made that commitment to Christ but still refuse to yield our lives to Him. Until we fully surrender to Christ and passionately seek after His transformation of us at the deepest of levels, we do not actually know God. It seems that knowing is much deeper that what happens in our minds. God is known in ways that involve all of our being. This state of knowing comes about when we give up the struggle to retain our old ways and start yielding our wills to Christ’s. God makes Himself known to us as we seek Him. Getting to know God is a life-long, never ending journey for people who desire eternity, for eternity comes to us as we grant Christ His dominion in all aspects of life. There is never enough of this knowing of God, and He never stops revealing more and more of His glory to us as we submit more fully to His will.