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Commitment is over billed in the evangelical community, just as joy is misunderstood in the world. Commitment is important. Commitment is the basis of our relationship with God, but it is not the goal. Much of the preaching on commitment assumes that the goal is to be committed. It is not. Commitment is the means. The goal is enjoying God. Commitment is also the basis of our relationships in our family. But the goal is to have a family that enjoys being together. We do not live on feelings; we live on commitment.
Commitment is the foundation, but it is not the goal. The goal is not to live a committed life; the goal is to live a joyous life of enjoying God because of our commitment. We must have commitment. We must start with commitment, but we must not end there. The world will admit they are after joy. They think they can get there without commitment. They cannot. Nor should we be content with commitment without joy. We must go beyond commitment to enjoying God. We will never win the world with commitment. It is joy they are looking for. We will only win them if we become so happy in God they think we are drunk.
It took me a long time to realize this in my marriage. I was committed. I would be loyal to my wife, Sharon, and true to Sharon. I had resolved to meet her needs. I had resolved to spend time with her, be kind to her, and remember our anniversary. I was committed to that.
But commitment never met her needs. She did not want to know I was with her because I was committed. She wanted to know that I wanted to be with her, that I enjoyed being with her. There is a world of difference.
If I had not had commitment, we might not have made it through those difficult times. Commitment is good. But it is means, it is not end.
The Pharisees were committed. They got everything right. But they didn't love it. They didn't enjoy God.
Enjoying God will lead a person to do what commitment alone will never have him doing. Committed people ask questions like, "Do I tithe on the net or the gross?" People who enjoy God are cheerful givers. Committed people witness because they ought to. Good Christians ought to witness. People who enjoy God talk about what they enjoy.
No one was ever a very good dad who didn't love it. Enjoying being a dad will do what discipline, commitment, resolve, and biting hard on your lower lip will never do. Commitment will motivate a dad to work hard for his kids. Resolve will cause a dad to provide for his kids. Responsibility might even cause a dad to spend some time with his kids.
But responsibility, resolve, and commitment will never get a dad down on the floor and play with his kids. My daddy used to say, "I am going to 'wool' you." I know that is probably not a real word. But you can bet that daddy's boys knew what it meant. Only enjoying it will cause a dad to get down on the floor and 'wool' his boys. (Tickle would be a weak approximation of the word "wool".)
This is why it is so important that we enjoy God. Enjoying God will lead a person to do what duty, commitment, responsibility, and resolve will never do. Duty will lead a person to attend church, read their Bible, pray, help where they can.
But the Pharisees did that.
And Jesus had the most scathing criticism for the Pharisees. He knew that the great temptation of the religious was legalism. And what he wants is a people who enjoy him.
Contrast a dad doing his duty and a dad who enjoys being a dad. My son, Dawson stuck the handle of a spoon in his teeth. On the other end was a blob of pudding. "What if I . . . toing! and flew this pudding up to the ceiling?"
A committed Dad would say something like, "Don't even think about it." The conversation would die there. He would fold the paper back in front of his face and go about the business of being a responsible dad, whatever that means.
I do not always take advantage of such an opportunity, but I decided to enjoy the moment. Enjoying God is about making moments. "Yeah, and what if the whole ceiling were covered with pudding?"
"Yeah, you could just lay in bed and . . . ahhhhhh . . . Plop would go the pudding in your mouth."
"Yeah and you would never have to brush your teeth because you would eat pudding all night anyway."
"Yeah, and what if the toothpaste were made of pudding?"
"Yeah, and what if the walls and everything were made out of pudding?"
"What if the whole universe were made of pudding?"
This went on for maybe five minutes.
I cannot prove this, but I think it is better for a son to have a dad that enjoys being with him than it is to have a dad who is merely committed. We must be committed to change all the diapers that have to be changed. But we must also keep the goal in mind--to enjoy being together. For no child will ever grow up whole who sensed he was merely an obligation that a responsible daddy performed dutifully. Children adopt the values of the people who enjoy them. That is not what it means to be a daddy. Dads must be committed, but they must be more.
The Song of Songs could never have been written by committed love alone. Only joy could write the Song of Songs. "Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, 'I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.' May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples." Song of Solomon 7:7 - 8 Does that sound like commitment to you? Get real.
Of course we must be committed, Jesus made that clear. The church is built on people who have sold out to God. They have left their nets to follow Him. (Matthew 4:20) But commitment is the kindergarten, not the graduate school. Commitment is the necessary prerequisite to enjoying God, it is not the point. The first thing Jesus said to the disciples was to leave their nets. He spent the next three years acquainting them with our happy God.