Are You Fully Devoted to Christ?

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Some in our congregation may still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

In his book, Children at Risk, Dr. James Dobson recalled coming across an extraordinary story related to this incident. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words — “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.”
 
With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country — those who have remained faithful. Our American military still exemplifies what unwavering commitment looks like– a commitment that keeps its promises even in the face of death. This kind of devotion to anything (except, perhaps our own selfishness) is not exhibited in our culture like it has been by many faithful generations before us.
 
In the Old Testament, we see God fully devoted to working for the redemption of man. He is sovereignly orchestrating history to provide restoration for His people, and ultimately for the nations. It is a devotion that was fully displayed in the climax of salvation history when Jesus hung from the cross. God has a special sovereign love for His people, and one thing he required in return from Israel (and from us today) is full devotion to Him. Reciprocity from a benefactor was a common expectation in the ancient world. When a recipient received grace from a benefactor, it was expected that the recipient would respond with gratitude, devotion and even worship.
 
This may seem selfish for God to expect this from his people, but it really isn’t. Being fully devoted to God was directly connected to inheriting His blessings. It was the bridge for God’s people to be restored back to the life they were created to have. In Joshua 24, Joshua goes back over the covenant with Israel. It is a sort of “renewed vows.” The people are charged to fully obey God with integrity and loyalty. Loyal devotion is to what Joshua exhorts Israel to commit to God. He says, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” Calling Israel to full devotion to God isn’t nefarious; it is actually most loving.
 
Joshua knew the opportunities that existed which would strive to divide the hearts of God’s people– opportunities that might cause people to put hope in objects and affections that offer false promise and comfort. To allow for that would be devastating for God’s people and result in them receiving curse instead of blessing and bondage instead of freedom.
 
Devotion to God means full devotion. Israel’s devotion to God required greater devotion and thought than the simpler choices we might make that have far less consequence– such as choosing what to eat, what career to pursue, who to marry and so forth. The way Israel committed to God was a matter of life and death, a matter of slavery or freedom, a matter of blessing or curse.
 
Faithfulness to God is still quintessential in the Christian life. There is no room for ambivalence. The consequences for God’s people are more severe when they flippantly turn away from Him. It does not just mean a bad wrap in the press and poor P.R. It ultimately means either inheriting the blessings of restored relationship with God and a fuller relationship with man or being carried away into the bondage of a life without God and his blessings.
 
In Luke 9:23, Jesus told his disciples, “…If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Following Christ is a call to die to our inner sinful man. It is a call to die to our selfish will. It is a call to embrace the will of God for our life. It means we don’t get to choose anymore. We embrace what has been chosen for us.
 
When you look at your life, how are you living out the call of God? Have you fully surrendered to his leadership over your life (Rom. 14:8-9)? Are you daily putting to death the desires of the flesh and living according to the prompting of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5)? Do you understand your giftings and passions and how they fit into the body of Christ and how he wants to use them to reach others (1 Cor. 11-12; 1 Pet. 4:12)? Do you use your financial assets as a means of serving God’s Kingdom (Matt. 25:14-30)? Are you living out God’s purposes for your life (Eph. 2:9)?
 
If you have answered, “No,” to these questions, what is keeping you from fully jumping in? Are you fully devoted to Christ? Some of us, without giving too much thought to the question, might swiftly answer that with a “yes, of course.” But those of us who know better will admit that there is always room for growth in our commitment to Christ. We can think about old habits that we still haven’t shaken yet. We might think about how we use our time, knowing that we don’t regularly make time to serve Christ. Some of us might admit that we don’t invest financially in God’s kingdom or we don’t invest time in prayer and the study of God’s word to grow in our relationship with Jesus. If this is you, then what is the next step you need to take?
 
Consider joining or starting a Bible study or prayer group where you can grow in your faith. Consider financial stewardship training such as going to Financial Peace University. Consider partnering with our church by serving in one of our many ministry opportunities. There’s room for you to serve and grow along with us here at First Baptist Church as we seek to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. We need and want you here with us.
God bless you as you seek to more fully know and serve Christ!
In Christ,
Pastor Jeremiah