Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart… (Psalm 119:2)
In terms of our Christian commitment, two dangers await us. The first danger is legalism, to believe that we must turn in some kind of performance to be acceptable to God. Legalism leans toward self-justification and away from grace-justification. It seeks to establish its own righteousness without any help from God. And it develops into a mean and nasty type of Christianity, especially avoiding the true matters of the heart. God saves us by his grace through our faith, and we do not become acceptable to God through any other terms than his grace and our faith.
The second danger is to think that our commitment does not matter at all. If it is by grace, then God does it all and I need not do anything. Many Christians I know want their “little Christian experience,” and are quite willing to do somethings for Christ in the church just so long as they do not inconvenience them too much.
But by its very nature Christianity inconveniences us – true faith in Christ requires not just “something” from us but everything from us and of us. To follow Christ every day demands of us total, radical commitment to him. Christianity is the treasure hidden in the field for which a man will give everything he owns to possess. It is the life of dying daily, of taking up our cross and following after Christ, putting aside all of our preferences for him. It is the life of seeking God without whole heart. It is the life of experiencing Christ every day – authentically, personally, intimately.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship)
The Prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) Our hearts will pull apart from Christ’s in any place where there is less than 100% surrender and commitment to him. Both legalism and uncommitted Christianity result in joylessness. But the life of faith in the grace of God in Christ is the life of joy and peace. We are made for God and our hearts will remain restless until we rest in him.