This past Sunday’s sermon was the conclusion of a series examining our church’s mission, vision, values and virtues. Titled “The Three Most Important Words” it was a great exercise for internalizing our need to commit to the organization or move on — it’s a binary equation in Christianity — you believe or you don’t; you obey or you sin. The world tries to paint a deceptive swath of “gray” suggesting that permissive activities are not about obedience or disobedience, but simply our right to waste the afternoon watching golf on TV.
It got me thinking about my own commitment to youth ministry. As a former BSA leader, a TLUSA advocate, and a serving CSB Ranger, I’d say I’m committed to action. For me, it’s not just about summarizing thoughts and ideals in a blog — exploring these themes to understand how they fit in with scriptures — but in reality, it’s all about trying to live out scriptures and these organizational ideals in my daily life. “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle” is meaningless unless I’ve transformed myself through that process of shifting from “me first” towards “how can I make a difference in other people’s lives” — that can only come from a lifetime of discipline and especially consistent commitment.
Our pastor made it really simple and very clear. “Commitment is the difference between information and transformation” — without a commitment to internalize and execute the directives, mission, values, etc. we’re only adding to our head knowledge.
When we commit and follow through, it can change our hearts, minds and whole lives. Most importantly, the overflow of this change can influence our relationships and local community in highly positive ways.
Arguably, the “three most important words” were “HERE I AM” uttered in response to God seeking our commitment to Him. A few examples of people who heard the call and acted on it include:
- Gen 22:1-2 (NASB) Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
- Gen 22:11-12 (NASB) But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
- Gen 31:11,13 (NASB) Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’
- Gen 46:1-3 (NASB) So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel [a]in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.
- Exodus 3:1-4 (NASB) Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
- Isaiah 6:1-8 (NASB) In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the [c]temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
- Psalm 40:7-8 (NASB) Then I said, “Behold, I come [a form of “here I am”]; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
- Hebrews 10:5-7 (NASB) Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come [a form of “here I am”] (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’”
In our lives, we ought to learn more about God and His Word; however, we must be ready to respond to His call with commitment, otherwise, we’re learning but not growing, hearing but not going, acquiring without sharing. Are you committed to the Lord (Matthew 22:37)? Your family (Ephesians 5:22-33, 6:1-4)? Your neighbor (Matthew 22:39)?
Within Trail Life USA, do you understand the Trailman’s Oath and Motto? Do you forge practical methods to practice these steps/pledges in your daily life? Are you walking worthy of the calling by committing to God with a response of “HERE I AM”?