There are many layers of meaning that surround Christian baptism. One of the most important things baptism accomplishes is a public declaration of your faith and submission to king Jesus Christ. In many ways, it’s like your marriage ceremony to Jesus. Just as a marriage hosts witnesses to the union of two people, a baptism hosts witnesses to the union of a person and Jesus Christ.
Imagine with me a groom who attended his marriage ceremony and was thrilled about his decision to marry his bride, but quickly, or over a period of time, his devotion to his spouse waned. Affection fades, commitments get missed with greater frequency and are met with increased apathy, and his friendship with his wife dissolves into them being distant acquaintances. At best, he has half-hearted devotion to his spouse; at worst, he has lost virtually all devotion to his spouse. The husband’s lack of devotion hurts every person involved in the situation.
Christians all over the world have made a commitment to Jesus. To both live and die for Him. But just like the husband in the above scenario, our devotion can wane over time if we are not careful.
Now let’s imagine a bride who attended her marriage ceremony and was thrilled about her decision to marry her husband. She loves her husband, but there are a few things she loves about herself more. Her husband has asked her to be more attentive to the money she spends, but she ignores him. He has asked her to be mindful of what TV shows she allows the kids to watch, but she is more focused on watching her favorite shows than caring about how her TV shows may negatively impact her children. He has asked her to tone down the passive-aggressive communication, but she is content with how she communicates and is unwilling to change.
She is more than willing to compromise on things that have little value to her, but unwilling to compromise on things that are important to her. She would rather stay the same than be inconvenienced with change that would require real work on her part. She may have great devotion to her husband, but it would be hard to convince anyone that she has wholehearted devotion to her husband. Wholehearted devotion to her husband would not mean that she always does what he asks her to do, but it does mean that she would be willing to consider changing in light of his request.
Wholehearted devotion is just as the phrase implies… a devotion that has your entire heart… all of you. Your love, loyalty, and enthusiasm are completely given to something.
Jesus deserves our wholehearted devotion. Not half, not most, but all of our heart and devotion. Just as a marriage symbolizes our devotion to our spouse, baptism signifies our devotion to Jesus. We are fully unified with Him; thus, we should be fully committed to Him.
But do we really need to give Him that much attention and influence over our lives? Why should we strive to give Jesus all of our devotion? What’s so significant about Jesus that we should give Him our whole heart, especially since it would be easier to live like one of the spouses above and give him what is convenient instead of giving Him our obedience? I believe as disciples of Jesus, we are obligated to give Him our complete devotion. If we are unwilling to give Him that, we might as well not become a disciple or reconsider if we really are disciples of Jesus. Since I believe total devotion to Jesus is a necessary part of being a disciple of Jesus, I have listed four reasons why I believe we should strive for wholehearted devotion to Him.
Jesus is worthy of all of our devotion: Christian theology proclaims the death, deity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In essence, He lived as God in the flesh, died as man, but was raised from the dead never to die again. He died so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be justified in the eyes of God. The event of the resurrection solidified in the minds of Christians the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of creation. This includes human beings. Col. 1:15-17 says 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. To be Lord over all creation means that you have authority and influence over creation and that you are the author of creation. Everything that has been created flows from Jesus and is sustained by Jesus. He provides us with every breath we breathe and every day that we live. This is why Jesus is worthy of our devotion. We owe Him our salvation. We owe Him our existence. Giving Jesus anything less than our whole heart would suggest that He is only worthy of a portion of us. I believe the one who created, sustains, and saves us deserves our respect, admiration, thanksgiving, and best efforts. In other words, He is worthy of all our devotion.
God is the source, sustainer, and goal of all life: The Bible says in James 1:17 that 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. It also says in Romans 11:36 that. 36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Practically speaking, this means all life, peace, purpose, joy, hope, gentleness, etc., comes from God. It flows from Him and can only be sustained by Him. When we detach ourselves from God in any capacity, we can expect to see death and decay in that area of detachment. This is because we are no longer connected to the source of life and goodness. Just like a branch dies when it is cut off from a tree, we die when we detach ourselves from Jesus. This is not just a physical death but also the death of all goodness in our lives. The attributes of joy, hope, peace, and more slowly decay as we remove ourselves from the one from which these attributes flow. When we walk in less than wholehearted devotion to Jesus, a part of our life is not connected to Him. Therefore, we can expect to see death in some area of our life. We can expect to see a lack of joy, peace, faithfulness, self-control, etc., in our lives. Now, even when we are walking in total devotion to Jesus, we may find ourselves lacking in these areas. Still, there is a difference in how a person walking in total devotion to Jesus would handle a lack of goodness or life in their life. A person completely devoted to Jesus will bring areas of death and sin to Jesus. In contrast, a person with less than full devotion to Jesus will either ignore the area of lifelessness or take that area to anyone and anything but Jesus. Everyone will have to deal with sin in this life, but how we deal with sin and death reveal our level of devotion to Jesus. We should strive for wholehearted devotion to Jesus because this devotion connects us to life and helps us revitalize the dead areas in our life.
We can’t reach our full potential apart from wholehearted devotion to Jesus: Piggybacking off of point number 1, the Bible informs us that we, human beings, are created in the image of God. Metaphorically speaking, this means that when people look at us, they should see God. Just like a picture is an image that reminds you of the person in the picture, so we should remind creation of God when creation looks at us. But unlike pictures, people reflect God in what we do more than how we look. So by doing things, we reflect our king and creator. But what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to do it? This is where wholehearted devotion comes in. As we live devoted to Jesus, we discover that we were created to reflect His character and creativity. We find out what we were created to do and how we should do it. Apart from total devotion to Jesus, one can not fully know their purpose in life. If one only gives a portion of themselves to Jesus, it would be comparable to only having a portion of an instruction manual. Yes, you could complete the desk you bought without the instruction manual, but those extra pieces left over actually have a significant role in the desk's function. If we only devote a portion of our lives to Jesus, then you can be sure that our lives will have a few pieces left over at the end of it as well. Yes, the desk, I mean our lives, will function well enough, but it won’t reach its full potential. When we give our complete devotion to Jesus, we have what we need to put all of the pieces of our lives together in partnership with Him. Only then can we reach our full potential.
If the claims of Jesus are true, it is logically rational to devote your life to Jesus fully. As God, Jesus is the source of all reality. To go against Him is to go against reality. Anything less than wholehearted devotion to Jesus will have you going against Him in some way, shape, or form. A right relationship with God is a right relationship with reality. This point deals with the logical part of our brain. Although humans can be irrational, most don’t like to be willfully irrational. Most people try to minimize the lies they live with and maximize the truth they live in. Therefore, if Jesus is the source of all reality, it is always wise to stay aligned with Him. Or, to put it another way, if Jesus is the source of all reality, it is foolish to go against Him. To knowingly go against reality would be to believe a lie as if it were true willfully. Wisdom would tell us all that living in reality, although painful at times, is better than living in a fabricated reality that will crumble quickly. Fabricated realities crumble because they are unsustainable. Total devotion to Jesus equals complete alignment to truth and reality.
The goal of this blog was not to say that it is easy to live fully devoted to Jesus or that it will always be fun living fully devoted to Jesus. Often it can be very difficult and challenging to follow Him. This blog is meant to encourage you and to show you the reasonableness and truth of living devoted to Jesus. Unlike the spouses we saw earlier, we should not want our relationship with Jesus to be characterized by apathy, selfishness, and pride. If we confessed Jesus as Lord at salvation, we should live as if He is Lord every day after salvation. It is the responsibility of the Christian to fully devote themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 14:25-35). Although it may be challenging, the life and goodness that flow from a fully devoted life does not compare to the obstacles we have to overcome.
In saying all of this, it’s one thing to know why we should strive for wholehearted devotion to Jesus, but it’s another thing to understand what wholehearted devotion to Jesus looks like. If you are interested in ways to live out wholehearted devotion to Jesus practically, check out my other blog, “What Does Wholehearted Devotion to Jesus Look Like.”
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