by Dr. Anthony Pranno
Maybe during your stay-at-home orders, you’ve flipped through some lesser-viewed channels on your television. Have you come across No-limit Texas Hold‘em? Here’s what it looks like: there are 8 or 9 players sitting around an oval table. Some are wearing dark sunglasses, others wear hoodies, everyone seems to have some poker website advertised on their cap or shirt, there’s very little talking and the players have huge stacks of chips in front of them. In between the commentary given by the show’s hosts, there is the incessant sound of players shuffling their chips.
Then it happens… One player feels his cards are good enough to push his entire stack of chips into the center of the table. As confidently as he can, he verbally states his bet, “I’m all-in!”
If we liken our devotion to Jesus to high stakes poker, it would be accurate to say that being a true follower of Jesus requires all-in commitment. Authentic followers of Jesus will do whatever it takes to make sure they stay on the tracks that Jesus has laid out for them. They’re absolutely loyal, completely, deeply committed.
Does that seem especially difficult during these crazy, unprecedented days of quarantine? After all, all-in commitment is tough! Many church-going, Bible-believing Christians have come to celebrate something called “selective commitment” or “customized Christianity.” We treat our faith like a buffet line. We take a little bit of this, a lot of that, none of those and some of these. We create our own personal dish of belief, whether or not it reflects what is desired or required by Jesus.
Selective Commitment is like saying, “I’m going to follow Jesus, but I’m going to pick and choose the areas in which I will follow.” For example, you might say…
- “I’ll follow Jesus, but don’t ask me to forgive the person that hurt me. I’m not going to let go of that resentment. I’m not giving up that bitterness. I want that … I deserve that.”
- “I’ll follow Jesus, but don’t talk to me about my money. I work hard for that money and I’m going to spend it where I want to. That’s my money and you (God, Jesus, church, charity) aren’t going to get your greedy little hands on it!”
- “I’ll follow Jesus but don’t tell me to abstain from these sexual desires. I can’t help the fact that I have these desires. I’m only human! Don’t ask me to abstain. Don’t warn me against pornography. I’m a follower of Jesus, but that’s not gonna stop me from basically getting what I want.”
Customized Christianity tells us that when we follow Jesus we only have to follow him in the areas where we agree with him. The other areas are up to us to decide. In so many words… “Yes, I’m a Christian… but I’m not all-in.”
If you’re not all-in, you’re not a true follower of Jesus… you’re a fan. Jesus never gave us the option of selective commitment or customized Christianity. There is no bargaining, no option to re-write Scripture, no bartering or negotiating with God. If and when you decide to become a follower of Jesus Christ, you’ve got to go all-in. The all-in follower of Jesus loves God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength.
The stay-at-home orders have given all of us a little more time to pray, think, seek wise counsel and wrestle with tough questions. On the heels of Easter Sunday and a challenge to recommit yourself to Jesus, ask yourself, “Am I all-in?”