Monday, August 20, 2007

unconditional commitment

A few days ago a friend asked me my opinion on a matter.

"What are your thoughts on unconditional commitment?"

I had never heard of the term. Sure, many of us are aware of the idea of unconditional election but what was unconditional commitment?

In order to gain time to form an opinion I asked him, "Um, in what context?" Pulling random scenarios out of the air, I added, "In a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship? engaged? married? God/man?"

"Um, I dunno ... in general, I guess."

ha ha ha. Well, no help there. I sat there for a bit, gathered my thoughts together, took a deep breath, and before I could start my friend chimed in:

"For instance, it is difficult for humans to engage in commitment to one another because unlike God we change. God, however, is unchanging and constant."

I replied:

"Indeed. And what a wonderful picture we have of God's unconditional commitment to his chosen people ... whether it was to the people of Israel despite their fickle disregard for their God or to New Testament believers like us who frequently regard self more highly than God. In the Old Testament, Hosea was called on to be a visual representation of God's commitment to his covenant despite his wife's unfaithfulness. In the New Testament, Paul makes the comparison between Christ/husbands and the church/wives.

"Before my father would consent to marry Mike and I, he asked us both to seriously consider: Is there anything that the other could do that would make me want to dissolve my marriage commitment? If either of us answered 'yes', the wedding would be called off.

"What if Mike should decide at some point that he didn't love me anymore? Would that annul me of any responsibility I had toward him? (Many secular vows today replace 'till death do us part' with 'till our love dissolves'. ) What if he somehow changed drastically ... even to the point of forsaking God?

"What we need to remember is that before we were united to Christ, we were enemies of God: in the position of the harlot before Hosea took her to be his wife.

Romans 5:6-8
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:10-11
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

"God in his great love redeemed us when we were his enemies, calls us his own, and has given the world a picture of his great love through marriage. Christ gave himself up for us, sanctifies us, cleanses us through his Word, so that he might present us to God on the last day as pure. When a husband follows the command to be as Christ to the wife he has chosen for himself, his aim is his wife's godliness.

"Marriage is a three-way commitment between a man, a woman, and God. One is always faithful and shows unconditional commitment ... even when the man and woman do not. Our commitment to each other ought to be out of reverence for Christ and for the sake of the gospel and for the other's growth in godliness. When times are hard and your spouse seems unlovable or even unwilling to receive your love, for the sake of the GOSPEL love your spouse even as God loves you!"

Let us out of reverence for Christ always be quick to forgive and grow in godliness as we learn to commit to each other.