“As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’ He said to another person, ‘Come, follow me.’ The man agreed, but he said, ‘Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.’
Another said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’” — Luke 9:57-62
Just before the Delaware Hayes High School women’s soccer team goes onto the pitch before a match, they have a routine that they follow. They all gather in a group with hands in together and someone shouts, “Who are we?” They all reply “Pacers!” Someone shouts, “Do you believe?” They all reply, “We believe.”
Someone shouts again, “What are we? They all reply, “All in!” It is a symbolic representation of their commitment to one another and the extreme effort that they are about to give towards a common goal. Everyone needs to be “all in” if they are going to accomplish their goal and everyone has a part in that goal.
It seems to me that our Christian life and commitment is no different. We must be “all in” for God and his kingdom. We can say the words, but the real way that we know if we are “all in” is by our efforts and commitment to God and one another. We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into believing that our faith is merely one part of our lives.
Instead, our identity and source for living is Jesus Christ and we will forever be defined by what has happened between God and us. We are “all in” because you cannot be Christian and be anything other than “all in.”
In Luke 9, Jesus shared some strong and emphatic words for the people who were interested in following Him. Here are some spiritual principles about what it means to truly follow Jesus:
• You cannot truly follow Jesus without being willing to sacrifice everything
• Following Jesus means we are to focus on our spiritual lives more than our everyday lives
• Our first priority in life is to go and share about the kingdom of God
• No one or nothing can be more important to you than Jesus (ever!)
• Do not start a journey with God if you are unwilling to see it through all the way
• Nothing less than our complete commitment to God and His message and work is acceptable
I know what you are thinking, “How is this possible?” The truth is without God it is impossible. But with God all things are possible. God can transform and change us. God can teach and train us. God can help our feeble efforts and turn them into God-honoring and life-altering moments.
God can and will do a new work in us if we will follow Him and let Him. God can make His Church thrive and be a source of hope and new beginnings. But we have to follow Him.
So let go of your agendas, preferences, opinions and personal perspectives. Fully embrace being “all in” for God. Share the hope of Christ with abandon. Be humbled and ignited by God in worship. Draw close and be intimately connected to God in prayer. Grow and become strong through Bible reading and study. Rejoice and share the gift of life in God with others. Allow God’s Church to represent Him and not us. Be all in. Are you all in?
Until The Whole World Hears.
Rev. David A. Carter is lead pastor, New Beginnings United Methodist Church.