Matthew 16:24-27 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”  NKJV

Through the years, I have been amazed at the number of “self-help” books that are in print and the soaring sales of those books.  I have found it interesting how the church has gravitated to preaching, teaching, and promoting programs designed to help people feel better about themselves.  I have heard scores of people in church talk about their desire to “find themselves” and discover the “real them.”  People are flocking to conferences and seminars searching for answers and, often, finding none.  It is like the old country song, “Searching for love in all the wrong places” We are searching for answers in the wrong places.

I heard a story (I believe told by Tony Campolo) about the reply a college professor gave to one of his students who had decided he was going to go on a quest to ‘find himself.’  The student informed the professor that he would not return to school the following semester.  The professor inquired about the reason for that decision, and the student informed him that he felt the need to ‘find himself.’ 

He said, “Doc, I’m tired of playing all these roles that society says I must play.  I am tired of being the me my friends expect me to be, the me that my family and church expect me to be.  So, I have to peel away each of these socially prescribed identities.  I feel the need to peel away each of these socially constructed roles society imposes upon me.  I have to come to grips with the core of my being, the essence of my personality.”

The professor mused on that statement momentarily and then gave an incredible response.  He said, “Young man, just suppose that after you peel away each of those socially prescribed identities and you peel away each of those socially prescribed selves, you discover you are an onion!”  That is an incredible response, for when you peel away all of the skins of an onion, what is left?  NOTHING!  An onion is nothing more than the sum total of its skins.

We do not find self; we create a self, and the only real way to create that person, character, or being and meaning in life is GOD or COMMITMENT to God.  The call of God is COMMITMENT in totality to Jesus.  The most real reality that exists is Spiritual Reality and that which we are in God. 

I have used an illustration for years about the tightrope walker Charles Blondin, who, in the late 1890s, strung a cable across Niagara Falls. As thousands of fans gathered to watch, he inched his way from the Canadian side to the U.S. side, and as he completed the task, the crowd was chanting his name.  After a short time, he silenced the crowd and shouted to them, “I am Blondin… Do you believe in me?”  They chanted back, “We believe… We believe… We believe…”  Then he informed the crowd that he was going back across the falls with someone on his back and asked if they believed.  They chanted, “We believe… We believe… We believe…” 

Then, he stunned the crowd with his next question and asked, “Who will be that person?”  There was an eerie silence, and finally, one man stepped out of the crowd and climbed on the shoulders of Charles Blondin, and for the next 3 1/2 hours, he inched his way back across the falls.  One person’s belief was manifested in COMMITMENT! 

It is one thing to declare our belief but often quite another to translate it or demonstrate it in COMMITMENT.  True faith is not simply saying, “I accept the facts.” It is “giving ourselves completely over to what expresses our belief.”   True Believing involves Commitment!  

I believe that one of the most serious and pressing problems in the church today is that while multitudes profess belief, there is a very large void of those who have and will make a total commitment of themselves.  Believers are everywhere, but commitment is not everywhere apparent.  In America, many know about God and believe He is real, but that does not make them Christians.  What makes a person a Christian is not professing to believe the right stuff. It is COMMITMENT to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is surrendering our lives to the LORD and becoming His disciple.

I want to address more about commitment but will pause for now and pick up next time. 

May the LORD watch over you, guard and guide you as you embark on today’s journey. 

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