Monday, October 28, 2013

Casual Commitment

Society in general today in America seems to be caught in a trap that allows its members to be connected to persons and institutions in a very loose manner with little or no commitment to others.  Perhaps it has always been this way but I doubt it.  To me, an observer of society who sees people in many different settings, it seems that many people do not want to commit themselves fully to any cause or institution or person.  They want to be involved at their level of comfort but when it comes to the giving of their time or effort, they rarely want to be imposed upon.

This casual commitment that some have seems to be the ruling factor in their lives.  They will be involved as long as it does not put them out or cause them extraordinary effort.  Pastors see it in the life of the church all the time.  Persons join a church and make a vow in front of God and all those present on that day that they will "support the ministries of the church with their time, talent, and treasure" or that they promise to "participate fully" with their "prayers, presence, gifts, and service."  That pledge is made cheerfully as they shake the pastor's hand and are greeted by others as they exit the church.  Having made the pledge, they are told of service opportunities in the local church for which their talents could be used.  After that interaction, what the future may hold for the new member is anyone's guess.

Some persons become very involved in the life of the church and are present for most services and functions of the local church.  Some go beyond the service to the local church and also serve in jurisdictional or national settings.  Those persons feel a commitment or calling to service that compels them to be active and present as they fulfill their promise to "participate fully."  Others are less involved but are present for most services and attend many other church functions.

Some persons, however, join the church and then seem to forget the promise they made to give their time, talents, and treasure to the institution they made a commitment to.  They are seldom present, rarely do they attend a social function, and they do not even fulfill the duties for which they promised to serve.  Their names may be printed on the bulletin for the week but they will just as well be absent as present in doing the duty they agreed to fulfill.  Their connection and commitment to the organization is weak and at times nonexistent.
This is not only true in the life of the church but it is seen in other civic organizations and even in relationships.  Persons make commitments and say promises and perhaps their intentions are honest when they say the words but time and life give them opportunities to forget and soon they blow away like the grass after it has been cut.

Jesus' famous parable of the seeds illustrates this very well.  A sower went out to sow seeds.  The seeds landed in various places.  The seed that found good soil grew well and brought about a harvest of grain.  Other seeds fell in rocky places, among the thorns, and were eaten by birds.  All of those seeds did nothing to bring about good results.  People are like those seeds.  Some get planted deep in the soil of the life of our institutions and in their relationships and they grow and bring about good results.  Others are very shallow in their commitments and fall away and do little for others.  The seed has promise and can bring about much growth but where it is planted and how it is fertilized makes the difference.  Perhaps once a seed has been planted, all the others in the soil should surround them with opportunities for growth and they will spring to life rather than fade away into nothing.

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