In the 1990s there was a popular TV show Seinfeld, which is still in reruns today. The self-proclaimed show about “nothing,” often revealed some life lessons in a rather humorous and sometimes silly fashion.
One of the characters, George Constanza, consistently encountered problems. Many were self-imposed issues in the area of commitment. Especially in his relationships.
In one episode, George fell in love with a woman in prison. This was perfect because she was the ultimate unavailable partner. The relationship was limited. The demands on George were few. And his commitment was almost non-existent. However, as soon as she was released from prison the relationship fell apart.
George’s attitude toward commitment is not unlike some Christians who want to keep Christ at a distance with little involvement, few demands, and a limited relationship. Why?
There are many obstacles in this world to real commitment. It may be in the area of personal relationships. Business. Or in our spiritual life. Part of the problem is expressed by Elton Trueblood when he wrote, “In our modern world, our real danger comes not from irreligion, but from mild religion.”
Mild religion equals a lack of commitment. What are some of the barriers that impede our progress? That limit our spiritual usefulness? And that hinders a total commitment to Christ? Some are self-imposed as we are imprisoned by our own irresponsibility. Others are a result of the the Devil’s relentless pursuit to conform us to our culture.
Consider these four obstacles.
1. Pleasures—”the attraction of the world.”
The pleasure-driven person says, “My goal in life is to have fun.” When this value takes precedent over everything else, it will become a barrier to spiritual commitment.
The Bible warns about those who become “lovers of pleasure instead of lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4).
2. Power—“the delights of wealth.”
“Money is power” is an understood and accepted axiom in our world. Of course, this is relative. Jennifer Wong in an Op-ed piece in The Californian correctly observed, “Different financial statuses create a particular kind of power dynamic in a relationship. Almost inevitably, it means the one with more money has more power.”
The Bible warns, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy”(1Tim. 6:17).
3. Prestige—”the search for success.”
“My goal in life is to impress people,” says the status conscious person.
Invariably an obsession with status, while diverting one’s attention from character, will become a barrier to spiritual commitments.
We would be well advised to remember that commitment to spiritual values does not appeal to many that are wise, noble, mighty and erudite according to the world’s standards (1 Cor 1:26).
4. Possessions—”the lure of nice things.”
Google “the finer things of life” and you get 5,770,000 hits in 0.76 seconds! This includes a page on Pinterest, a facebook page, and a blog. And, of course, many lists of the best and most expensive creature comforts of life.
When possessions take priority over God’s purpose, they become an obstacle to commitment. The Bible warns us “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” (I John 2:15-17).
It’s possible to amass wealth, obtain possessions, achieve success, and enjoy certain pleasures in this life without sinning. When viewed through a spiritual perspective, obtained or enjoyed with a righteous motive, and used unselfishly, our material attainments and accomplishments may provide a blessing to others. And even enhance our ministry in the Kingdom.
However, when we fail to look long term and see these as an end within themselves they become misplaced values, offer short term gratification, and provide limited fulfillment.
Christ calls us to be committed to that which is bigger. Better. And eternally rewarding.
–Ken Weliever, The Preachermman