In the past few years the game of poker has dramatically risen in popularity in the United States. The World Series of Poker is broadcast on ESPN each year. One of the many vocabulary terms used in poker is, “all in.” All in means that you are literally putting all your money or chips in on the hand you are currently playing. There are a number of reasons that you can use this strategy, and one of them is confidence. A player feels that they are able to win with the hand they have been dealt so much so that they are willing to put everything they have on a single hand with confidence they will win. It is a bold strategy, but can reap tremendous benefits for the player if used properly.
Although poker players may have created the term all in, it is a concept that we see Jesus speak to his followers about in scripture. Take a moment to look at John 21:15-20. In this passage Jesus asks the disciple Peter, Do you love me? If you have ever been asked that question by someone that you care about, you know that this question cuts deep. When someone asks do you love me, it rattles you at the core; it can bring up feelings of hurt and confusion. But Jesus asks this to Peter, and he replies, “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15 TNIV) Three times Jesus asks this question to Peter, and we are told by the 3rd time, “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old…someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:17-18, TNIV)
Jesus’ call to Peter hurt Peter’s feelings, but at its core was this simple question from Jesus, “Are you all in?” Peter to follow me, to show you love for me is going to be hard, you are going to run into obstacles and ridicule, trust me this is not going to be easy. So when I send you down this road, I have to ask, are you all in? Are you willing to follow me even when it is hard, even when I ask you do challenging, uncomfortable things? Will you put My will and My plans above your own, trusting that My plans?
God has dealt each of us a hand, filled with talents, skills, people, our church, situations, and experiences. He tells us in His Word, that if we are faithful to his leading we will bear great fruit (John 15:5). So are we all in? When God tells us to serve his sheep through the children at a local school, are we all in? When God says feed his sheep by reaching out to our neighbors, by putting more time and effort into work outside the four walls of the church, by spending time and money differently, by trying new things, are we still all in? I believe Jesus has called us as His followers to be all in, as an act of our trust and faith in Him and His will. I believe that God will show us things and do things that we could have never imagined, if we will follow with this kind of faith and obedience. So when the next opportunity arises from God in your life, step out in faith, be all in for his work, because God will honor that, even if the road has a few bumps along the way.