Ivan the Great was the 15th century czar of all of Russia He brought together the warring tribes into one vast empire–the Soviet Union. He was known as a brilliant general and a courageous fighter.
The story is told that Ivan was so busy waging war that he had never married. Soon his advisors were concerned there would be no heir to the throne. The great czar agreed, but said he had no time to find a wife. So he commissioned them to find a suitable bride.
Soon they found the beautiful, dark-eyed daughter of the King of Greece. She was young, charming and brilliant. The King of Greece was happy for the alliance. And Ivan was agreeable. However, there was one condition. The King said, “He cannot marry my daughter unless he becomes a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.” Ivan’s response, “I will do it!”
Ivan was instructed in the Orthodox doctrine and soon traveled to Athens with 500 of his troops to be baptized. His loyal soldiers asked if they, too, could be baptized. So, they were given a crash course in Catechism.
The crowds gathered on the Mediterranean shore to watch Ivan the Great and his 500 soldiers baptized. However, a problems arose. The Orthodox Church prohibited professional soldiers from being members. They would have to give up their commitment to bloodshed.
So, a priest was dispatched to Moscow to instruct Ivan in Orthodox doctrine. Ivan was a quick student and learned the catechism in record time. Arrangements were concluded, and the czar made his way to Athens accompanied by 500 of his best troops–his personal palace guard.
After a hasty round of diplomacy, the problem was solved quite simply. As the words were spoken and the priests began to baptize them, each soldier reached to his side and withdrew his sword. Lifting it high overhead, every soldier was totally immersed-everything baptized except his fighting arm and sword.
This story may be apocryphal, but makes a great point. How many unbaptized arms are there in the church? Or unbaptized wallets? Or unbaptized attitudes? Or unbaptized talents?
In one of the great Bible verses, the Psalmist penned, “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” (PS 37:5)
Bible expositors Spence and Exell comment regarding
\ the meaning is “Cast thyself and thy life unreservedly upon God – yield thyself wholly to him – look to him for support and guidance.”
Commitment to the Lord is more than just getting baptized. Or being baptized in order to marry someone. It is not a rite or ritual that is a mere formality while we hold back our true intentions with one arm raised out of the water.
Commitment involves loyalty to the Lord. Dedication. Devotion. And responsibility. It is a pledge to serve him. An involvement in His work. An engagement in His Kingdom. A duty to assume. And a charge to keep.
Commitment involves Trust. It is a total reliance on God to provide for your spiritual needs. It is faith in His Word. It is absolute confidence in His promise and provisions.
It takes faith to commit. It calls for courage. It requires steadfastness. And it demands a rejection of values that leads us away from commitment to God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman