Editorial: Minimalization

Don’t run to your dictionary – I know it’s not a word. I coined it in order to describe a phenomenon which is becoming increasingly the norm – the practice of minimal Christian commitment. Put in the everyday vernacular, it means, “How little do I need to do and be to get by in the Christian life?” For many, it plays out in how far they can go in the entertainment, social, and sports worlds. For others, it is a guiding principle in assembly responsibilities and attendance. No longer do we live by the maxim of, “How can I please God?” The rule of life is how we can please ourselves and still pass muster as believers. All of us are, to some extent, tainted with this philosophy of Christian living.

The men who gathered to David in the cave of Adullam (1Sam 22:1) were of an entirely different ilk. For the three who broke through the ranks of the Philistines for the water from Bethlehem’s well, the issue was not what David commanded, but what David desired. The breathings of his heart became their mandate (2Sam 23:13-17). The secret was being close enough to David to hear his longing expressed. Is that where we fail?

Commitment and sacrifice are the very fabric of Christian living. All that we have is built upon a Man Who sacrificed Himself for us after the most selfless commitment ever known. It was expected that Christianity would be lived by people who, in turn, were committed to Him and knew something of self-sacrifice. If my Christianity costs me nothing, it is probably worth exactly that. Worship and service are called “sacrifices” by the Hebrew writer (Heb 13:16), implying that there has been a cost incurred to carry out both.

Commitment in attendance at meetings should mark us. “When the whole church is gathered together” (1Cor 5:4; 14:23), suggests that the Spirit of God did not anticipate any willful absences. Am I committed to the gatherings of the assembly or is convenience what guides me?

Commitment in the development of gift and a sphere of service is highlighted by Paul’s language in 1 Timothy 4: “Meditate upon (devote yourself to) these things; give thyself wholly to them” (v15). Am I giving the needed time to Bible study and reading the Word of God? Do I prepare for the weekly Bible study (gender does not matter here, as both brothers and sisters need to be prepared)?

Am I committed to finding a sphere of service to the assembly and seeking, with the Lord’s help, to fill that niche? A generation of believers is quickly moving on, and the baton needs to be passed. The older generation needs to be willing to pass the baton; but a younger generation must be willing to take it up and move forward faithfully.

Minimal Christians make minimal commitments. Minimal Christian commitment will inevitably lead to minimal Christian testimony. We, collectively as an assembly, are described as “pillar and ground (bulwark) of the truth” (1Tim 3:15). If we are going to faithfully preserve and publish the truth of God in the hostile society in which we live, it will take maximal effort by those living close enough to the Lord to hear the desires of His heart.