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Commitment or Compromise | Eli Landrum

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Commitment or Compromise | Eli Landrum

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Years ago, I sat with other ministers in a pastors’ conference session and listened attentively to a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor speak on committed Christian discipleship in the 20th century. One statement he made has stayed with me through the many years since. He stated that although we could not go back and follow Jesus along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, we nonetheless received the clarion call to follow Him in our time—in a society and culture desperately in need of genuine representatives of the Christ who saves and calls to service. Although I often have lacked consistency in meeting Jesus’ lofty demands, I have lived my Christian life in the tension created by His uncompromising call to commitment.

The word disciple is not an exclusive religious term. Every now and then, we hear or read of someone’s being a disciple of a leader in a certain field. A disciple is a student or follower. Thus, a Christian is a follower of Christ. I am convinced that many Christians are subscribing to a diluted discipleship of their fashioning that has little resemblance to Jesus’ rigorous, robust call to continue His redemptive work. One of the most popular—if not the most popular—pseudo-gospels of our time is all about getting what you want instead of giving yourself in sometimes costly service to Christ. The peddlers of a “dreams-do-come-true” counterfeit gospel become wealthy and parade their wealth as proof of their theology’s soundness. As far as I can tell, Jesus never said to people He called to follow Him, “Follow me and you will prosper.” He did stress that following Him would involve difficulty, but He promised his presence.

As I have surveyed today’s religious landscape, I have concluded that numerous professed believers in Christ are proponents of a casual Christianity. Once having made a profession of faith and resting in the assurance of “once saved, always saved,” they have defined freedom from sin and guilt in terms of freedom to do as they please, to blend in with their culture instead of challenging their culture with Jesus’ demands for expressing genuine repentance, living by His standards, and presenting His message of available grace that radically transforms life. In many respects, casual Christians are no different from people who do not profess allegiance to Jesus. Casual Christians too easily adopt their culture’s mantra that they “go along to get along.” Too many have forged a comfortable compromise with our culture.

Compromise is a two-sided coin. One side has a positive connotation. Groups or individuals with differing opinions or agendas hammer out an agreement all can live with. In the process of give-and-take, concessions are made that make accord possible. The result is progress that is beneficial. The negative side of the coin is that to fit in and achieve personal goals, people lower or abandon ethical standards and high moral principles. They allow themselves to be shaped by their culture’s mold.

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Eli Landrum received the Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and earned the Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He served as a church staff member and as a pastor for 14 years. After 23 years, he retired as an editor at LifeWay Christian Resources. In retirement he has written extensively for LifeWay. He lives with his wife in Nashville, Tennessee.

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