Everyone is committed to something. Committed to a job, to friends, or to a spouse. We commit to finishing that book we bought last month but still haven’t gotten through. We (hope) to commit to that new diet or that New Year’s resolution. Seniors in high school respond to college acceptances and commit to their favorite school.
Some of my friends this year have committed to marrying their special someone by getting engaged. Others have committed to their spouse through the sacrament of marriage. Still others have gotten ordained, having committed their lives to the service of the Church.
For all of us, whether it is to something short term or long term, our commitment means seeing through what we started. With relationships, it implies a certain surrender of oneself to the other, a giving of myself to you.
So with all of these important commitments happening all around me, I can’t help but reflect on who and what I am committed to. I commit to the things I find the most important. I commit to my priorities: family, friends, work, school.
What about my relationship with God? What about my commitment to growing in my faith?
Our priority list can fill our minds with worry and we can forget to put Christ first. In our rush through life’s commitments, we forget to actually be committed to Him. So it’s no surprise to me that in the Divine Liturgy, we’re reminded to commit ourselves to Christ over and over again. Six times, in case we missed it the first five times!
“Let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.”
So let’s take a look at this petition and see the three things it’s calling us to do today.
The first thing this petition calls us to do is to commit ourselves to Christ. Though we may be tempted to worry about the faith of others, we have to make sure we are committed to Christ before we worry if others are. It’s like when flight attendants say “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” Our life in Christ begins with our decision to unite ourselves with Christ first.
It’s helpful not to over-complicate this: committing ourselves to something is about making a decision, taking a clear and simple action.
If I’m committed to a friendship, I will take the action of calling them, keeping in touch, spending time together. If I’m committed to finishing a book, I’ll have to actually pick it up and make time to read it. In order to commit myself to Christ, I have to put on my oxygen mask through prayer and through participating in the sacraments.
If I am committed to Christ, I have to set aside time to be with Him, to focus on that relationship.
We decide to commit (or not commit) to Christ each and every moment of each and every day. And we can start today, by making the decision to commit ourselves to Him, to follow Christ through our actions and our thoughts. In this way, our commitment to Christ isn’t hypothetical; it’s a conscious decision each moment and is shown in conscious, concrete actions throughout the day.
How do we commit one another to Christ? We commit our loved ones – and our enemies – to Christ by praying for them. We commit the poor and needy to Christ by serving them.
Simply put, we commit others to Christ by loving them with humility and trust.
Throughout the Liturgy, there are petitions where we pray for all sorts of people: the sick, the travelling, our government, our Church leaders. But then we’re told to commit one other to God. So besides simply praying for all of these people, we are called to give them up to the care of God. To trust that God will provide all that they need, and how they need it, when it’s His will.
By committing one another to Christ, we give up our right to worry and stress about what is going on around us. We instead turn to Christ, trust in Him, and ask for His will to be done in others’ lives. When we are given the opportunity to do something palpable in the life of a person in need, we ask for God to strengthen us to do His will in that moment.
If I am set on solving someone else’s problems on my own, then I’m not committing that person to Christ. I’m committing them to myself, to my plans, to my will. If I’m telling God what to do in my prayers instead of letting my requests be known to Him and praying only for His will, then I’m not committing others to God.
I have to let go of control – even and especially in prayer – if I want to commit others to the care of God.
God doesn’t just want part of me, He wants all of me. He wants me to be as committed to Him as I am to finishing that plate of food on Pascha, or that argument I just have to win. If you’re an athlete, God wants you to be as committed to Him as you are to winning that tournament or that scholarship to play in college.
We’re either all in or we’re not in at all.
I’m always challenged when I hear the words of Christ from the Book of Revelation: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). Who wants anything that’s lukewarm? We want to be on fire for Christ, not smoldering embers left over from our GOYA days.
So, more than committing ourselves to God (which requires a decision and action), committing our whole life to God requires us to completely rely on Him. I commit my life to Christ when I offer Him all that I do today. I have to pray for God’s will in all aspects of my life (work, school, relationships) and honestly desire to carry out His will when it becomes clear to me.
Committing my whole life to Christ means giving up my right to pilot my life and asking Christ to take over – because I can’t do it on my own. Once I commit my whole life to Christ, we’re in this together for the long run. Like a marriage, commitment to Christ means giving my life to Him and trusting in Him.
The Church calls us to commit ourselves, one another and our whole life to Christ. Any commitment can feel overwhelming if we focus on the end goal. A lifetime commitment could sound intimidating if we forget to live one day at a time. In the same way, our Christian life can feel impossible if we don’t live it out purposefully one day at a time.
Instead of focusing on our plans and our desires for the future, we can choose to seek out God’s will and commit our life to Christ. Instead of worrying about our loved ones, or worrying about world events, we can commit one another to Christ. And instead of second or third place on our list of priorities, we can put Christ first and commit ourselves to Christ our God.
What are you committed to?
Have you committed yourself to Christ today?
Sam is the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.