Sometimes yard-sticking isn’t a bad thing. In the midst of a very dark season of my life, comparing myself with my closest friends actually opened my eyes to the vulnerable place I was in. A place without hope, joy, or solid ground. A place neither here, nor there. Just in-between.
I watched them like an outsider who looks in at a family perched by a warm fire while shivering alone in the cold. Every now and then I’d get glimpses through the love my friends showed me of how warm perching near the fire could be. Eventually, glimpses were not enough, and I wanted my own fire. My own warmth. I knew that I couldn’t have my own fire if I remained in that icy, in-between place, but I also knew that drawing near would require that I shed some layers so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the heat of the fire.
Sometimes we want to have one foot in the world and one foot in God’s presence. We want to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin, and embrace a false righteousness that makes room for our guilty pleasures. We know we need to live in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ, but sometimes sin seems to have better phone reception. It’s only when we encounter those passionate Christians living sold-out lives for Christ and those quiet moments when we’ve reached the end of ourselves that we realize that the in-between place is cold, empty, and overrated.
When we shed the layers of sin and lifestyles we’ve grown so accustomed to in exchange for God’s gift of credited righteousness through faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit’s work of making us more like the Savior, we position ourselves to receive the comfort, love, and warmth that springs from a committed relationship with God.
Do you find yourself straddling the perpetual fence of lukewarm Christianity? Not sure what’s holding you back from fully and unapologetically living Christ out loud? Here are 3 reasons you still haven’t fully committed to Jesus, along with some practical ways to defeat the one-foot-in-both-camps mentality:
#1 | Trying to Serve Two Masters
Ever see a professional athlete try to play for both the home team and the competition? That’s ludacris, right? Since the player’s affections and loyalty are divided, no team is benefiting from his or her efforts. Are your spiritual affections divided between the world and God? The truth is there is no “in-between” in competition, you’ve gotta pick a side. “If you aren’t for me,” the Lord says in Matthew 12:30, “you’re against me.” In the grand scheme of life, we know that God already has the victory. The danger in not fully committed yourself to the Lord is that your forfeit the opportunity to experience His victory on sin and death.
What does “serving the world” mean or look like in our everyday lives? It’s basically desiring the approval, blessing, and the vindication of someone or something that isn’t God in order to find worth or value in your own existence. That might flesh out in your life through the passionate pursuit of:
- Money or riches (Mark 6:24, Luke 16: 13).
- Praise and approval of your peers (Proverbs 29:25, John 12:43).
- Immoral sexual satisfaction (1 John 2:16, Romans 1:24-25).
- Power and influence (1 John 2:16).
- & you fill in the blank.
When we believe lies about our own value and worth and take pleasure in sin more than God, we find it hard to fully commit to God. So what can be done to jump this hurdle of noncommitment?
- Confess: If you recognize that you have been trying that you’ve been trying to please both God and world, start by acknowledging this to God as sin. Confessing this sin-problem to God will invite Him to address it with a solution. Ask God to help you find your identity and worth in Christ, and find complete satisfaction in His love. (By the way the free Live Christ Out Loud Bootcamp has an entire module dedicated to finding your identity in Christ. Check it out.)
- Make the Bible Your Standard for Living. The quickest way to start committing yourself to God is to stop taking cues from the world and your own sin-nature. Total surrender to Christ happens when we exercise obedience to Him in all areas of our lives, not just areas we feel comfortable with.
During my engagement to my soon to be husband, Gerald, it occurred to me that Gerald would be the only man I would ever experience an intimate, romantic relationship with ever again. For a tiny moment, I felt fear, and then the thought occurred to me once again. Gerald would be the only man I would ever experience an intimate, romantic relationship with ever again. A wave of peace washed over me, and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Restriction can be the most freeing experience you could ever have. My commitment to my husband Gerald restricts me romantically to him alone, but it also frees and fetters me to him in ways that make our love rich and enduring. Commitment to God may at first seem restricting, but it is in that spiritually-monogamous relationship with God that you experience the fullness of His faithful and unconditional love.
#2 | Unwilling to Count the Cost
I have to confess…at times I can be an impulse buyer. I see something I like―not necessarily need―and the next thing you know I’m at the counter paying for it. This gets me in big trouble when the item cost a little more than I expected. My cheeks turn red when I realize “Uh-oh. I can’t afford this thing.” Jesus doesn’t want us to choose Him on an impulse. In Luke 14:28 Jesus is effectively saying, “Before you choose to follow me. Pull out that spiritual coin purse of yours and count the costs of genuine discipleship.”
Jesus never promised his disciples sunshine and rainbows. He promised that we would have trouble and endure persecution on account of His name, but He also promises to never leave us or forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Isaiah 41:10). I mentioned before that leaving the icy, in-between place and perching next to the warm fire would involve shedding some layers that I had become accustomed to so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the heat. Counting the cost, is surveying the sin and lifestyles you will have to shed in to fully commit to God. For the rich young ruler that involved selling his possessions and giving his wealth to the poor, a call that he ignored (Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27). For the woman at the well that involved her adulterous lifestyle, a call that she embraced (John 4:1-42).
What about you? What is God calling you to lose in order to gain the riches of His love? Embrace that call today by: Praying that God would reveal the un-surpassing worth of new life in Christ to you; & remembering that “you only live once” is a fairy tale and there are very real consequences for pursuing sin and its fleeting, unfulfilling pleasures.
#3 | Trying to Do It Alone
Once my mother nonchalantly mentioned that she’d like a tree stump to use as a chair in her summer garden. Me being the huge momma’s girl that I am, I pulled over at first sight of one abandoned in front of my neighbor’s house. After getting his permission, I let down the latched door of the truck bed and triumphantly bent down to pick up the stump. There was one problem. It weighed about 300 pounds. I heaved, hoed, and made ugly, straining faces, but my best efforts weren’t enough to lift it even one inch off of the ground. This was not a task I could do alone, so I doubled-back to my house for reinforcements. With the help of my husband and an old wheelbarrow, we managed to get the job done.
When you’re in over your head, it’s more productive to admit that you need help than to flail and struggle on your own. I could’ve stubbornly tried to build up enough muscle strength to pick up that stump or hurt myself in the process of trying to engineer some clever way to get it done, but why do that when there are people and tools like the wheelbarrow to help me achieve my goal?
It’s takes a village to raise a spiritual child. Helping hands make lifting the heavy burdens of life a whole lot easier. Having other mature believers that have walked the life’s roads before you, make the tough times that much bearable and easier to navigate. Have you been heaving, hoeing, and straight side-stepping the church in an effort to do this Christian living thing on your own? Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that there is a very real spiritual battle going on and an enemy that’s seriously trying to catch you slipping so he can take advantage of it. I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to tackle an army all by my lonesome. There’s strength in numbers, girl. That’s a fact.
The desire to approach pain with honesty and hope is very rare, but God often uses healthy Christian fellowship to supply the strength to take steps toward healing. When you cast aside your unique place in the body of Christ, it stagnates your maturity and healing from past wounds. Yes, there will be times where things are less than perfect…and sometimes down right dirty, but when we follow Christ’s example in the gospel those faults get covered by love, patience, and forgiveness. Who wouldn’t want any of that awesome stuff when they mess up?
So my final exhortation to help you become fully committed to Christ is to become a member in a local church body. Allow other mature believers to love on you, pour into you, and hold you accountable to God’s word. Steward well and exercise the spiritual and practical gifts that God has given you in your church family.
(P.S. Check out more articles on the church, including how to find a good one in your area, right here. P.S. P.S. There’s a whole module dedicated to the church in the free Live Christ Out Loud course. Just saying.)