John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Commitment. This word can bring out a various range of emotions in any one person; however, the definition remains the same. Commitment is the act of pledging allegiance or obligating your entire self and energies to that thing or person to which you are committed. You can not have a real relationship without some level of commitment. Love requires commitment. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who is not committed… with someone who says, “I love you…. with most of me, on some days, or when I am in a good mood, or when it feels right or good, or until my eye wanders to something more appealing to me.” I don’t want to be treated that way, and I am sure that no one else really does either. That is not love… am I right?
So, why do we think that we can say, “I love God” and not be responsible for commitment to Him? How does it make God feel to be in a relationship with someone with a fickle heart? Why would we think He deserves less than our ENTIRE self and ALL of our energies? See, we may be fond of Jesus, or really like the idea of “loving” God, but the truth is, that if we are not fully committed to Him, we can not say we truly love Him. Let me tell you a story….
So, there was this amazing man of God, a prophet, named Hosea and the first thing God tells him to do is go marry a harlot… a prostitute. Really? Being a man committed to his God (see what I did there), off he went down to the streets to find wife… the treasure that would make his earthly love complete–A mission of compassion and obedience. At last, down a dark, deserted street, his eyes met hers. Lying in a gutter, she was awestruck that this man of God was kneeling down beside her holding out his hand to her. “Will you marry me?”
Talk about a fairy tale, this girl went from rags to riches in a matter of days… a beautiful story of redemption. And I’d like to say that they lived happily ever after, but there’s more….
The early days of their marriage were beautiful as love began to blossom, and they had a son. Hosea’s heart was filled with joy and pride in his new family. He was convinced that this son would only bring them closer together. However, after the birth of his son, Hosea’s wife became unhappy, and restless. Hosea went on preaching and encouraging God’s people, and she grew to resent it and began to find other interests to occupy her time, and spent more and more time away from home. Hosea was beginning to feel the pangs of suspicion about her unfaithfulness…. his suspicions were confirmed when she became pregnant with a child. Although convinced that the child was not his, he named the little girl and began raising it as his own. However, his wife became pregnant again, this time with a boy, and again Hosea knew the baby was not his. God told him to name the baby “Lo-ammi” meaning, “no kin of mine.” Ouch, everything was out in the open now. From then on, Hosea pleaded with his wife, but still she ran off with her lovers because they promised to lavish material wealth on her. A each time she returned, He would take her back in loving forgiveness and try again.
Then, the final blow fell, maybe it was a note, maybe through a friend, but the message seemed to be, “I’m leaving for good. I’ve found my true love. I will not be coming back again.” Heartbreaking. Here, Hosea had taken this girl who had nothing but scars of a vile, sinful life and had loved her and given her a new life and everything she needed, but she had returned to the old life which would surely bring her to ruin. Most people would have thought, “Fine, good riddance, she was nothing but trouble. Now let her go ruin her life again.” But not Hosea, he longed for her to come home, and to be the faithful wife that he knew she could be.
One day, Hosea heard that his wife’s lover had left her. She had sold herself into slavery and hit rock bottom. Certainly, Hosea would forget her now.. what a mess.. but his heart would not let him forget. And God said to him, “Go get her, buy her back.” Really? After all she did? Yes, really… Hosea went on a search that only indestructible love could bear. He found her ..ragged, torn, sick, dirty, disheveled and chained to an auction block in a slave market. And Hosea bought this adulteress back and took her home and called her his wife.
Wow. A true, beautiful story of love and commitment, but what does this have to do with me?
Truth is, we were the woman lying in the street that day. We were prisoners to the only life we had known–the gutter. But Jesus, unbelievable Jesus, came to my gutter to offer His nail-scarred Hand to bring me out of the gutter into a world and life that, apart from Him, I would have no hope of knowing. He rescued us. He saved our lives, and gave us everything we could never even dream of….
…. and yet, we still chose sin over our Savior. Just as Hosea’s wife forgot who she had been and where she had come from, we, so often, forget who we really are. Our true roles as filthy, dirty, sick enslaved people who have no hope, and the Jesus who gave up everything to come and redeem our souls. We would rather go back to be chained to a disease-invested auction block of sin, than stay COMMITTED and faithful to our Savior. How sad, and yet, He loves us anyway. Truly the greatest love story ever told. To think that our God loves us that much. Think of how much love is needed to look past our failures, reach down and even touch us, let alone, make us His bride.
“The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play and as we watch, the world says ‘This is love.’ God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, ‘This is love’.”- Joshua Harris
This is True Love. So, how can we really say, “I love God” and return daily to the life that He has brought us out of? We can’t.
This Valentine’s Day, as we cherish all the love we have in our lives, think about this– the commitment that real love requires, what commitment meant to Jesus, His impossible love for a people like us, and what this requires of us now– To live faithful, true, pure, completely committed lives because of HIS commitment, love, and sacrifice.
Happy Valentine’s Day!