Commitment is a scary word today. We are so suspicious of anything that requires us to commit. What if we feel differently later? How do you know you aren’t being taken advantage of? What if something better comes along?
Core Value #6 of Orchard Community Church is to be “Committed to One Another.” Here is the explanation from our list of Core Values:
We are committed to the local church because it is the principal place where God is working out his purpose in the world and in people’s lives. We believe that active participation in the church advances God’s purpose and is essential for the spiritual growth of individual followers of Christ. We are committed to demonstrating Christ’s love and grace to the world by the way we treat each other. We will encourage, love, build up, disciple, forgive and admonish one another. We will pray for and with one another, honor each other, be patient with one another and rejoice together. (Romans 10: 12,13; Ephesians 4:16; Hebrews 10: 24-25; 1 John 3: 16-18)
Jesus prayed for the commitment-phobic church by saying, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23). Our unity displays God’s glory and true unity is impossible without commitment to one another. Fake unity is easy enough without commitment. Fake unity is simply gathering with people who are just like you. This looks like unity, but is really just a clique – a human method of dividing the people of God in ways that maintain our comfort. True unity is being committed together to something beyond ourselves – to the Gospel Mission for which Jesus died and rose again and then told us to spread throughout the world. It is a choice to work together even when we disagree because we know that what joins us together is greater than anything that can tear us apart.
Sometimes we use metaphors for the church. We say it is a hospital for sinners or a battleship for the Gospel Mission. These can be helpful, but they are more about what the church does than what the church is. Author Mark Dever has a great little book about the church with a title that really sums up who we are. It is called, A Display of God’s Glory.” This is what Jesus meant in his prayer when he said, “may they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me….” Our unity (commitment to each other and to the cause of the gospel) displays the glory of God. Our unity shows the world that God’s love is real and that it is life changing.
Commitment requires a lot of communication, patience, and hard work. If our goal is simply effectiveness then it doesn’t matter what people think and we can just walk over them in the name of accomplishment, but if our goal is unity then we must work hard to communicate to help people understand what God is doing and how we are seeking to follow him together. We must have patience with each other as God leads each of us at different speeds. We must work hard to maintain unity through faithful studying, teaching and preaching of God’s Word.
Right now as a church we are looking at reinvigorating our membership process. We want to be sure that people understand the commitment level that is necessary for a healthy church “as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16). We want people to know about what God has done and is doing at Orchard and to be excited about and committed to being unified in following wherever God leads. In January and February we are going to go through a sermon series on church membership. We are also going to have a few membership seminars for people who would like to join. This will all culminate in a membership Sunday where we will all welcome in new members as well as reaffirm our commitment to one another.
Being a display of God’s glory is not easy, but it’s also not that complicated. We maintain and strengthen commitment to each other by laying down what we want and together seeking what God wants. This is the unity and commitment that displays God’s glory to a commitment-phobic world and it is why we at Orchard Community Church are “Committed to One Another.”
photo by Flickr user Eric M Martin