One of my all time favorite card games is poker. If you’ve ever played Texas Holdem you know how intense poker can be. It’s fast-paced, the outcome can change in almost an instant, and it involves a lot of risk. The most crucial moment in the game is the moment in which someone places all their chips on the table and says, “I’m all in.” Going all in means you’ve placed everything you have down in hopes to win the hand. It means you’ve held nothing back and you’ve laid it all on the line. Most of the time when you win an all in round you win big. But if you lose, you lose it all.
When I think about poker, I’m reminded of my Christian walk. You might not know it yet, but God has called us believers to be ‘all in’ in our relationship with Him. He expects us to lay all our chips down and risk everything on a promise. What promise is that? I’m talking about the promise of eternal life. I’m talking about the promise that, when everything is said and done, living for God will be worth it.
The Difficult Teaching of Jesus
Jesus said something incredibly difficult in Luke 14:26. He says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” That’s tough stuff. How can Jesus say something like that? What He’s saying is, If you want to follow Me, you’re going to have to go all in. It’s clear that Jesus is not messing around, but how can we get to the point where we are able to accept what He is saying? The answer is simple. We must believe that the promise is worth it. We must place everything on the table and believe what He has said.
So what did He say? Look at what Jesus says a few chapters later in Luke 18:29. It says, “And He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.’ ” Jesus specifically mentions eternal life, and His promised is rooted in a reward that stretches far beyond what we will see on this earth. If you ask, how can Jesus can promise houses and family on this earth when missionaries and people spreading the gospel in other countries are often times far away from their family and the comforts of home? I would suggest that Jesus is not necessarily promising the houses and family that first come to our mind. When you enter the kingdom of God, you are welcomed into a family of believers and your own body becomes a temple or house for the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that God will not bless you with a home or a family, but I am saying that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways won’t always look the way we want them to.
Are You All In?
If you play to the end of the game, there always comes a time in poker when you must decide to go all in or go out. I challenge you today to make that same decision in your walk with God. Are you all in? Are you all in, or are you just placing small bets now and then in hopes to save what it is you have? The reason poker is so intense is because you have to place bets on a hand that you can only see part of. You don’t get the full picture until the end of the round. In the same way, we are not going to see the full picture until the end of our lives. We won’t see everything that God has planned for us until it’s too late to take the risk. But though it’s a long-term risk, it’s a risk that also has immediate benefits. When you go all in and begin to operate as a functioning member of His kingdom, you are given a purpose – a job to do. You are given life, and freedom in Christ. You get to experience the peace that comes with knowing how things are going to turn out. Most importantly, you get to live life abiding in and fellowshipping with the King.