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Beyond Whatever

“Whatever!” The use of this word as an informal assertion expresses “a reluctance to discuss something, implying indifference, skepticism, or exasperation.” Oftentimes it is dismissive of an issue or topic that one is confronted with. It signals the attitude that refuses to be bothered with any further discussion or prodding.

This attitude often shows itself when we are confronted with the challenge of making good on commitments made to some cause or endeavor. While we may not verbally declare “whatever!” the attitude manifests itself in our failure to honor our commitments. We do not show up for appointments, we do not complete a task, we are not consistent in fulfilling promises.

Sadly, self-professing followers of Christ are not exempt from this tendency. For instance, we commit to a discipleship study series. But we never really give our full effort in doing the assignments, we falter in regularly attending the group sessions, and we may even altogether abandon the study. Perhaps we may come up with good reasons for that. But if we look deep into our hearts, and we are honest about it, we just might find a “whatever!” lurking in the shadows.

Whether it concerns regular attendance in community worship or prayer, or consistent completion of ministry tasks, or unselfish service to others, or even faithful giving to church ministries, the deeper issue is not the legalistic meeting of expectations but the reliability of one’s character. Are we of the kind that can be trusted with our word, our commitments? Because that’s the character of our Lord, who gave his all for our sake.

In his book The Complete Book of Discipleship, Bill Hull writes of the importance of Christian community. He describes it as “the relationships we form to help us live out our beliefs.” Later in the book, he urges: “Do you want to love people? Then help them keep their commitments to God.”

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10.24 NRSV). “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good” (Titus 3.14 NIV). “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5.15 NIV).

This is a call to help one another to transcend the level of “whatever!” and to pursue a life of devotion to Christ without reservation.

—Keith Y. Jainga

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