Devoted. I worship and serve in a small church which has an audacious mission. The mission statement is a single sentence not unlike other statements I have read: our mission is “…to build a community of people fully devoted to Jesus Christ and dedicated to reaching those far from God.” One day I started chewing on the word ‘devoted’ and I began questioning my ‘devotion’. It seemed that devotion, being devoted, had never been sufficiently explained to us. Could anyone, I wondered, be fully devoted or even mostly devoted to Jesus? So I started searching.
Another Heart Condition. I settled on 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT) as a biblical warrant for the ‘devotion’ I was questioning:
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
Full devotion can be understood as full commitment – another healthy spiritual heart condition. Mysteriously the idea of being fully devoted/committed was beginning to seem less impossible although still audacious. I could sense my desire growing to ‘be’ this way and I instantly yearned for the promised ‘strengthening’ of the Lord. But what do these look like – both the full devotion and the promised strength? Certainly Jesus was fully devoted and was strengthened but how can we, His followers, also be so?
What Mindy Found. In her brilliant little text, Mindy Caliguire explains full devotion happens in our hearts when we surrender to the truth which we have come to know. Think of two partially over-lapping circles, one as 'Truth' and the other as 'Surrender' – Devotion occurs in the middle area where truth and surrender intermingle. Mindy reports how the Holy Spirit revealed ‘full devotion’ to her:
‘“…a friend helped me understand that full devotion is a matter of the heart, not a matter of moral or spiritual achievement. “The heart is what has the capacity to be devoted, Mindy,” she said.
Full devotion is a state of our hearts when our understanding of truth is equal to our level of surrender. When that equilibrium is reached, …incremental, irrevocable transactions take place, by God’s hand, to transform the human soul. Authentic transformation happens and human souls actually bear a greater and greater resemblance to God.
…we become aware of new truths – truths about God, truths about ourselves or truths about the world around us. And there will be an ongoing wrestling between our will and these new truths as we surrender. And when we do surrender in the light of whatever particular area of truth, our hearts are once again fully devoted and we have become something new. We surrender and change gradually, perhaps, but we are nonetheless new”’ (Discovering Soul Care, IVP Connect, 2007).
Fusion Within. But this is more than just a convergence of truth and surrender – this is a fusion: the intermingling of two elements, brought together by an energy source (the Holy Spirit), resulting in the stunning creation of something new – a heart transformation in which we are made more like Christ. This is soul restoration (Psalm 23:3) in action.
Fully Devoted and Strengthened. When we surrender the best we can to the truth we understand, we are fully devoted. As long as we stay surrendered, we are walking in full devotion. When we stray away from being surrendered/obedient, our devotion has lapsed. When we return, our devotion is real again. And what about the promised strengthening of 2 Chronicles 16:9? What is it? I have come to believe that the strength we receive is largely the strength needed to surrender, again and again, as the Spirit reveals new truths for each of us. This is Spirit-led growth, Spirit-inspired movement in the direction of maturity, step-by-step according to Divine design and not of our own making.