Half-hearted discipleship is a terrible limit on one’s soul, our own tepidness would forever hold us back from becoming the people we were meant to be. And I know this, because I have spent a great deal of time in this state! This study was absolutely meant for myself, a reminder for why I need to recommit myself body, mind, and soul every day. I’ve lately started a morning ritual where I reflect on the upcoming day, the temptations I am likely to face, and then make resolutions for how I will stand a little taller.
So much of it comes down to just living intentionally, not allowing myself to slip into autopilot mode. But to do that requires constant engagement, and I find that I cannot maintain it unless I am diving all in.
Anything that compromises me in one area, will tear down my defenses in all areas. I cannot try to be mostly good, I have to try to be all good. And though I will fail to be all good, just because I sincerely tried, the grace of Christ will come in to make up the rest.
Partial Commitment is No Commitment
God loves us and fights for us whether we are entirely devoted to Him, partially devoted, or even if we are not devoted at all. When He calls on us to be fully invested in His gospel, it isn’t because of His ego. It is for our own sakes. He knows that “all in” is the only way that discipleship can work for us. I spent years trying to live a double life, frantically filling my coffers with good deeds, to try and make up for the indulgent vices I was also doing on the side. It didn’t work, the vice robbed the coffers, and every good thing I tried to do felt hollow and insincere.
We know that Satan entices us to be full-blown sinners, but he is also perfectly content with part-time Christians. Both groups are left within his power. If we think that we are serving God and the world, in reality we only serve the world.
Lest it sound like I am demanding perfection, I wish to stress that our actions will inevitably be flawed, forever falling short of the ideal. But even if we never measure up to perfection in action, we can be perfect in picking ourselves back up again after each slip. Our commitment can still be complete, we can be invested in always trying once more. That is enough. That much God is able to work with.
Matthew 6:24- No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Luke 9:62- And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
The Gospel is as Valuable as You Make it
But what does it take to have a full commitment? Nothing less than the promise of all things. Only the assurance of every eternal happiness will compel a man to sacrifice all that he has. The question arises, then, do you believe that every happiness is offered within the gospel? Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you only see it as able to offer some insights and some pleasantries, but not necessarily as the end-all-be-all ideology. If that is the case, then you will not be able to follow it wholeheartedly.
That doesn’t have to be the end of the story, though. One can work from this point forward. First and foremost is to accept that all things are promised by the gospel. Whether or not you think they can be delivered is another matter, but let there be no doubt that the gospel claims to be able to provide you with every eternal blessing.
Then the question is whether those promises of the gospel can be trusted or not. And to determine that, one only needs to test its various parts. Really lean into prayer and see whether you feel the presence of something eternal or not. Really dive into the scriptures and see if they are alive with an unseen Spirit. Really adhere to the commandments that you can and see whether you experience the promised change of heart. Test the gospel in enough areas, see it bear the fruit that is promised in each, and soon enough you’ll have faith in it all. But do your testing sincerely. Be all in each step that you take.
Luke 15:17-18- And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him: make me as one of thy hired servants.
Without the Gospel You Have Nothing
Who is willing to make such an experiment, to sincerely commit to something so demanding, and all on only a sliver of hope? Well, usually none of us until we are first broken and desperate. Most of us have to try and live without the gospel first, find ourselves in dire straits because of it, and only then become willing to try the things we had previously scorned.
But let’s back up a bit. At the outset, the world offers many things, and the pleasures it promises make it very easy for us to dismiss the gospel. Entertainment, recognition, diversion, stimulation…these are all pleasant things, and the first tastes of them are so intoxicating that we believe they will forever be enough. When you have enjoyment like this, what need is there for things like resurrection, grace, eternal life, and forgiveness? We are content without them.
In time, though, all the getting still leaves us wanting, the pleasures grow stale, some of them are even taken from us on a whim. Eventually we realize that the everything of the world means nothing to us anymore. And the spiritual things we considered to be nothing now mean everything. The soul grows desperate for the eternal, and one becomes willing to sacrifice everything of the world, just to obtain any of the grace that God is willing to measure out to them. And God, of course, is willing to measure out all of it.
John 6:68- Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Matthew 13:45-46- Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.