Going All In
I don't play poker, never have and never plan to but there is a phrase that's used in the game of poker that sums up what the Christian life ought to be like. As the scene plays out and the game goes on someone gathers up all their chips, pushes them to the center of the table and declares "I'm all in!" It is an expression of unreserved commitment.
This kind of unreserved commitment is precisely what Jesus calls all who would follow him to. In Luke 14:25-33 Jesus is speaking to a great crowd who have been following him and he states:
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
On first inspection this sounds almost unbelievable. Is Jesus really calling us to hate our family? The answer is yes and no. He is not calling us to hate in the sense that we often use the word today, but rather he uses it (as it is commonly used in Scripture) in a comparative manner. That is to say, Jesus demands our highest devotion, that we should put Him first to such a degree, loving Him so completely that by comparison our love for others and self pales.
He continues stating, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."
Jesus obviously didn't read all the latest gurus on building a ministry, because the popularly promoted approach to building a church, gathering a crowd and becoming a big name is to make the message more palatable. Jesus does none of that, he says, "you're either all in, or you're all out, there is no other option!"
The taking up the cross, the renouncing all, it speaks of our death to self and our total dedication to him. The problem is we live in a world that says you can be a Christian without being a disciple, that you can play the game without it ever having to cost you a thing. Costless Christianity is worthless religion but costly discipleship is priceless salvation!
Are you hoarding the chips, tossing in one or two occasionally but keeping the stock pile close. It's time to quit playing around, making excuses, watching from the sidelines and to courageously count the cost, pushing it all to the center of the table and shouting, "I'm all in!"
In the game of poker taking that step is huge gamble, in the path of discipleship there is no gamble in entrusting all to Him who laid down His life for you.
As for me, I'm all in!