How well I remember my grandmother repeating those three words and a litany of similar phrases all day long every summer of my childhood:
“Shut the door! In or out! Were you raised in a barn?
You’re letting the flies in; you’re letting the cool air out!
Shut the door! Make up your mind. In or out!”
In our defense, my sister and I were just kids growing up in the hot, humid south, long before central air conditioning—and long before computer games or smart phones. Get real! We only had 2 (that’s right, 2) channels on our rabbit-eared television on a clear day. Our only option was playing outdoors.
Looking back, I think we probably ran in and out of that screen door a million times a day just to reassure ourselves that the adults really were watching over us—and just for the pure pleasure of hearing our grandmother fuss and complain. Plus, it’s really hard to make up your mind when you’re only eight years old.
Evidently, it is still hard for many American adults to make up their minds at 28, 38, 48, and even 58 years of age. If that statement sounds overly dramatic, then look at the number of times people buy and sell their homes, only to relocate within a twenty-mile radius. According to the National Association of Realtors, Americans only stay in a home around ten years. Compare that to generations back when married couples often bought a house, lived there for a lifetime, and even passed it down to their kids. Seems Americans can no longer make up their minds to stay put in one place that long!
Maybe that’s because Americans need the latest and best in everything. We sell or trade our cars in order to purchase new ones almost as often as we get a new computer. Not to mention buying new phones for ourselves—and our kids. They need the latest techno gadgets too. We can’t expect them to be satisfied with one particular thing for very long. So we let them try a multitude of new activities and sports, then allow them to quit mid-season. After all, life is about trying new things and having new experiences, right? And change is good, right?
It must be…because we change hairstyles and stylists, banks, dentists, and doctors at the first sign of discomfort, dissatisfaction, or boredom. We can’t even stick to one TV channel, so we surf hundreds of channels and use split screen viewing, all the while recording one or two other shows for watching later. Maybe.
No wonder the divorce rate is astronomical—both outside and inside the church! We can’t choose a cable or phone provider and stick with them, much less choose a lifelong mate.
No wonder indeed! America has commitment issues! We can no longer commit to anything or anyone on a long-term basis—not even Jesus or His church.
Statistics show that although 73% of Americans claim to be Christian, right at half of those people only attend church once a month. And if those estimates aren’t disturbing enough, think about the fact that 49% of those churchgoers will look for a new congregation in their lifetime, with almost a quarter of that number due merely to church dissatisfaction
Yes, American Christians have commitment issues!
But, is our lack of Christian commitment fatal and final? Is it too late for us, or can America become a truly Christian nation once again? Can we totally and forever commit to Christ?
To do so, we must be willing to lay down this American life of ease and plenty, this temporal existence, in exchange for the eternal cause of Christ. And most importantly, we must acknowledge that Jesus committed all to us. He kept that commitment all the way through the Garden of Gethsemane, past the whipping block and its 39 stripes. He then bore the burden of eternal commitment all the way up the hill to Golgotha. There, He made the ultimate sacrifice by committing to die in our stead on the Cross of Calvary.
Jesus had no commitment issues at all.
He loved us with no regret or regard for Himself. He was completely committed to doing whatever it took to save us. That was and is real commitment! Jesus was totally IN it for us.
So, what’s it going to be, America? In or out?