I hear Christians preach and proclaim that we are supposed to be “fully devoted followers of Christ.” In fact, the pastor I sat under for a couple of years (Craig Groeschel) preached this over and over again and it’s even in the mission statement of his church (LifeChurch.tv). The mission statement is, “to lead others to become fully devoted followers of Christ.” Seriously? Really? Are we really called, or better yet, commanded to become “fully devoted followers of Christ”? I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this concept when I hear it. As a believer, it can tear at your heart because we realize that we haven’t been “fully” devoted to Jesus. We look at all we’re doing for God in church & ministry and then we look at how we screw-up every single day. I don’t know about you, but many times at the end of the day, I don’t feel like a “fully devoted follower of Jesus.” We try and try and try to do the best we can only to discover it’s just not enough to label ourselves with “fully devoted.” Sometimes it seems like something is missing. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever wondered when, if ever, you would be able to earn the right to be called “fully devoted.” I mean, what exactly do I have to do to gain that patch on my Boy Scout jacket? After all, Jesus did command us to be “fully devoted.” It’s all throughout Scripture. No half-stepping! All or nothing! Right? Right? It’s hard to grasp the whole “fully devoted” thing because, as I said earlier, that many times at the end of the day, I don’t feel like I lived “fully devoted” to Jesus. I remember thinking a while back, “Craig is crazy! Who’s fully devoted anyway? Yeah, that’s easy for him to say…’Mr. Senior Pastor of LCTV.’ He’s telling us to do something impossible. I could never be ‘fully’ devoted. Ridiculous. Whatever Craig.”
Then…God spoke to my heart. The Lord helped me understand this concept is indeed “ridiculous.” But not in the way I thought. What was ridiculous was the understanding the Lord began to give me about being “fully” devoted to Him. I was right to some degree, but I didn’t realize I was wrong. I realized that you and I can’t be “fully devoted” if being fully devoted means marking off my daily checklist of Christian activities and sacrifices I’ve chosen to partake in each day. That concept was ridiculous to me because it’s what I had always assumed and now God was correcting me. It’s not the things we do that make us fully devoted followers of Christ. I don’t have the ability to be “fully devoted” in that sense, because as much as I do and try, it will never be enough to acquire that label. But I do have the ability to surrender fully.
It’s not what we accomplish in activity, but who we devote ourselves to knowing & obeying daily. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discounting the “do” part of our Christian walk. But the “doing for God” isn’t necessary. We have to look no further than the thief on the cross to realize this. However, the thief on the cross didn’t have the opportunity to “do” anything. He only had the opportunity to surrender, and he did. We have the opportunity to “do” (obey) and we must in response to our full surrender.
Listen, you may not feel like a fully devoted follower of Christ because you don’t “do” this or “do” that for the church. You may not feel like a fully devoted follower of Christ because you screw-up every single day. You may not feel like a fully devoted follower of Christ because your marriage is in trouble, or because you cussed when you got angry. And you may not be a fully devoted follower of Christ, but it’s not because of those things. You’re not a fully devoted follower of Christ if you aren’t willing to leave everything you own or do if Jesus asks you to. He may not ask you to leave any of those things behind, but if He did, what would you do? If your spouse asked you to leave all you had in order to be with him/her, you would. I know that because you probably did to some degree. And you’d do it, not out of obligation, but you’d do it out of love. But would you do it for Jesus? Craig was right. We are to lead others to become fully devoted followers of Christ, but we can not lead others in this way if we ourselves are not fully surrendered. So I ask you this: Are you fully devoted to Jesus? If so, what evidence is there to the lost? If not, why? Surrender today…fully.
Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. Help us to remember daily the price He paid for our mistakes, that we have complete forgiveness. And thank You for going a step further and filling us with your Spirit to lead us and guide us moment-by-moment. We now, consciously & intentionally, surrender our thoughts and actions to You. Thank You for allowing us to surrender and be a small part of what You’re doing in the world around us. Thank You. Amen.