This wording comes to us from jumping and tossing contests, such as high jump, pole vault, or as the Scots do – tossing incredibly heavy objects over a cross bar. The raising of the bar is to increase the goal, to make higher the standard.
When I think of the church today, I am convinced that in most cases we have set the bar far too low. If one shows up to services once per week, and contributes we count him as faithful, even if he shows zero spiritual interest the rest of the week. We avoid encouraging him to attend the other services, for after all, we might drive him away. Further, he thinks what he is doing is acceptable, because no one’s ever told him otherwise, he has little idea what is expected, and many other church members do the same. If one has attended for twenty years, then we definitely deem that one as faithful, even if she has not once tried to win a soul for Christ, and even if she is a gossip and troublemaker. Somewhere along the way elderships and churches have lowered the bar to the point that about all that is expected is attendance and contribution. Is there any wonder we’re not accomplishing more?
There is no telling what we would be able to accomplish if we’d return the bar to its rightful position where Christ placed it.
Jesus was (is) demanding. (1) Luke 9:23-24: After telling His disciples of His coming death said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life or My sake, the same shall save it.” (2) Read also Luke 9:59-62. When He said “follow Me,” He meant it. He didn’t accept anything less. (3) Luke 14:26-27, “If any man come to Me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, ye and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” He demands first devotion and affection in our lives.
Paul understood this. (1) Romans 12:1-2: Paul taught “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” What does God deserve? Your very being dedicated unto Him. (2) 2 Corinthians 8:1-5: Paul is speaking of the giving of the churches of Macedonia. He says that they had given more than he had hoped. The reason for the generosity is perhaps expressed in the words that they “first gave their own selves to the Lord.” Have we truly given ourselves to Him? (3) Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who lived for me and gave Himself for me.”
There is no telling what we could accomplish together with God’s help if we’d each determine to truly love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).