By TJ Lawson
You’ve seen this scene in movies before. A dirty storeroom with mops, brooms, and other janitorial supplies scattered around. The camera pans around; there is a group of men seated at the table. They all look sinister but powerful, with piles of chips or cash in front of them, maybe a weapon laying on the table. One of them takes one last look at their cards and says, “I’m all in…”
To go all-in means you put everything on the table, and this isn’t something we’re generally comfortable with. We may make jokes about being all-in, but the truth is many of us hold something back. We reserve the right to contradict ourselves. We reserve the right to hold back, and when it comes to Jesus, we reserve certain parts of our lives for ourselves. We don’t want to go all in with Jesus. We might think that we do, and we might talk like that at church, but we often hold back.
We hold back parts of our lives that we want to hang on to.
Back when I served in Kentucky, a friend of mine was a youth minister at a church there. One of the elders came to him to talk about his son, his son who was the star of the school’s football team and who had been accepted on a scholarship to a university, the same son who came home and told his dad that he felt called into ministry. So this elder wanted to talk to the youth minister to explain to him that not everybody had to go into ministry, that there would never be a way to make any money doing that. Maybe if he would go to school and become a doctor like his dad, he’d be able to make a lot of money. He could give financially to the church and help pay for others to serve in ministry.
This elder failed to see he had not gone all-in with Jesus. He had held back his son and his son’s future from our king. My friend was just shocked that someone could be so blind. I’m not. We all tend to hold something back. So what are you holding back? What parts of your life do you still wish were yours? Is it your finances? Do you spend your money as though it’s yours? When the paycheck comes in, do you constantly think to yourself, “I deserve this. I worked hard for this?” or do you ask the question, “What would God have me do? What could I do to serve with this?” As Christ followers we should know that everything we have comes from him. Is it your family life? Are you holding on to your relationship with your spouse or your relationship with your kids in a way that would violate God’s will? What if God were to call your brother or sister overseas? What if he were to call one of your children to go and to serve, maybe to serve in a place that’s dangerous and unsettled?
Would you be okay with that? If not, we have to ask the question, “Have I gone all-in with Jesus?” because he doesn’t leave us any room. In Matthew chapter 16, starting on verse 22, Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What will it profit a man to gain the whole world and to forfeit his soul?”
We are called to give. We are called to give everything to our King. Give our whole life, not to hang on to the bits and pieces or the corners that are precious to us, but to trust him with everything as our Lord and our king. He has come to change the world and to free us from sin and death. When we go all-in with him, he will change our lives in ways that we cannot imagine.