Commitment

Genesis 47:29: When Israel [another name for Jacob; 32:28] knew he soon would die, he called his son Joseph to him and said to him, “If you love me [I have found grace in your eyes], put your hand under my leg [thigh; a euphemism for male genitalia; this was a commitment to keep a promise]. Promise me [Deal with me according to loyalty and faithfulness that] you will not bury me in Egypt. (EXB)

2 Esdras 16:74: In that time, the genuine commitment of my chosen ones will be shown, as gold that is tested by fire. (CEB)

Matthew 5:33-37: And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong. (MSG)

Quiz time: What do shows like “The Golden Girls,” “Friends,” “Designing Women,” and “Full House” all have in common?

No, they aren’t all a line-up for fine evening television on cable (although this can certainly be true).  They are all excellent examples of commitment, of ways that different groups of people have made commitments to one another – and, more than anything – kept those commitments.

Commitment just shouldn’t be something for late-night, nostalgic television, it’s not something we should contemplate in misty-eyed memories of a bygone era.  It is something that, if we are Christians, we should take seriously and pursue, to be people who are as good as our word and interested in others around them.

“Commitment” is a loaded word in church.  It’s something we need to talk about, but I think many pulpit ministers are afraid to touch.  Sure, a few more politically-driven leaders might bring up the word when they want to talk about divorce rates, but we don’t hear about it in any other context.  What we hear in church is often the opposite:

“Oh, I can’t make it, but I hope it turns out all right!”

“Sorry I missed your event, I had something else I wanted to go to.”

“Is your event still happening? I wanted to go to something else so I wanted to see if you were still having it.”

“I’ll catch you next time.”

“I am not going to give to what you are doing, but I’ll come on FB and like it” (so that one isn’t actually said by most, it’s just done all the time).

As a leader who has spent most of her ministry as a spiritual covering in one form or another, I’ve experienced all the statements above, plus more, at an increasing frequency.  Rather than develop true relationship with leaders (and with others, for that matter), there is an underlying air of use.  Leaders are picked based on how much they can further someone else’s walk or ministry, and no real relationship is forged or developed, thus creating an atmosphere where commitment is rare.  People switch churches and leaders like hats,  and we are slow to see people who genuinely care about others in their lives through the form of a lasting, committed connection.

So when I heard Rachel Platten’s new song, “Stand By You,” my first thought was that we should call it the “Commitment Song.”  Not only is it accompanied by a beautiful music video, “Stand By You” is a herald of what it means to express commitment.  While we might be quick to tell people that we will always be with them or never leave them, how good are we at following through on that promise?  Are we people who can be trusted with the scars that others have, with the fears and difficulties they have, and to be willing to give that hand up so they can become all that they can be?  Even if they never find the promise they are looking for, are you willing to walk with them through that?  We talk all the time about breakthrough, well, are you willing to stay with someone long enough through the breakdown to get to that breakthrough point?

Commitment is all about us putting our money where our mouths are and being willing to do more than just give endless word (that often doesn’t mean much to hurting people) or make promises and then never follow through on them.  It’s more than just saying that we’ll catch someone later or another time, or wishing them well when we should be doing something to help out.  It’s about being a Christian, living the walk where we slow ourselves down and avoid becoming over-committed so we don’t have to confront God and the changes that we need to make within ourselves.  If we have kids, we must care for them, seeing it through to their adulthood. If we have dogs, we must care for them, seeing it through throughout their lives.  If we are employed, we must do our jobs for the duration of our term of hire.  If we are Christian, we must see our commitment to God and to others no less, as something we must do through the duration of our spiritual lives.

In Biblical times, commitment was shown as they took oaths and those oaths were considered as binding oral contracts among people.  In the New Testament, Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t swear, neither by heaven or earth – but that our yes should be yes and our no, no.  In light of how serious people took their commitments, have we ever considered why this is?  I believe it is because God commands us to be committed people, those who take our promises and agreements seriously, and that we should not need to swear by anything to follow through and do the right thing.

If we love as we claim, we will keep our commitments.  If we love as we say we do, we won’t have to swear, promise, re-echo ourselves, or beg for cooperation, because our committed nature will speak for itself.  Love is shown in action, and if we love God and our neighbor like we should, our yes will be yes…and it will be more than just a word.  In this day and time, never say you love someone if you don’t mean it, and aren’t willing to walk with them through hell if they never find heaven this side of eternity.

(c) 2016 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

Stand By You (Rachel Platten)

Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars, show me all the scars you hide
And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Oh, tears make kaleidoscopes in your eyes
And hurt, I know you’re hurting, but so am I
And, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine ’til yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you

Yeah, you’re all I never knew I needed
And the heart—sometimes it’s unclear why it’s beating
And, love, if your wings are broken
We can brave through those emotions, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Oh, truth—I guess truth is what you believe in
And faith—I think faith is having a reason
And I know now, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine ’til yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you

I’ll be your eyes ’til yours can shine
And I’ll be your arms, I’ll be your steady satellite
And when you can’t rise, well, I’ll crawl with you on hands and knees
‘Cause I… I’m gonna stand by you

Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through (come on)
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Love, you’re not alone
Oh, I’m gonna stand by you
(even if we can’t find heaven, heaven, heaven)
Yeah, I’m gonna stand by you

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s