Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm all in

Francis Chan is a pastor who lives in southern California and he is the favorite speaker at Brethren National Youth Conference every year, and for good reason. He is an amazing communicator. This year, I got to hear him speak twice. His message was powerful.

He told the story of a Jewish guy in his church who received Christ and came forward to be baptized. At Chan’s church, they give an opportunity for people to trust Christ and get baptized every service. Many of these individuals give testimonies. As this guy gave his testimony he quoted some things from “Gamblers Anonymous.” Afterwards, Francis followed up with this guy. He wanted to be sure that this fellow understood that he could not just add Jesus to his already established beliefs. This guy responded in “gambler’s terminology” and said, “Francis, I understand. I’m all in!”

I’m all in!” What a statement. It is actually a term from poker. When a gambler is so sure of his hand of cards, he says, “I’m all in!” In other words, he is betting every chip he has on the cards in his hand. That’s how sure he is. If he’s wrong…He’s done. His game is over. He loses everything. That’s what it means to follow Jesus. You have to be “all in!” You have to be so sure of who Jesus is and what Jesus did and His claims that you’re “all in!” But to be honest, there are a whole lot of professing believers out there today who live lives that are anything but “all in.”

Francis talked about going to visit his grandmother who lives in Hong Kong. Everyone she introduced him to said the same thing…“He’s so big!” Now you have to understand that Francis Chan is only 5 feet and 9 inches tall. He is not big…at least not in American standards. But in Hong Kong, he was tall. Why? Not because Francis Chan is really that tall but rather because all the people in Hong Kong were so small.

That’s how it is in America today when it comes to Christianity. Christians who get up early to read their Bible and pray are seen as spiritual giants. People who share their faith are viewed as great spiritual people. But, folks, these acts aren’t that unusual when compared to the early church. Just read Acts 2 sometime. The reality of it all isn’t that Christians who get up early to pray or Christians who share their faith are that great and unusual. The problem is that they live in a country of spiritual midgets. My professor in college put it this way…“Most Christians live such a subnormal Christian life, that when someone lives a normal Christian life, it seems abnormal!”

Francis Chan went on to say that life is like driving a car and seeing Jesus on the side of the road. Some put Jesus in the trunk so that when they get a flat tire in life, they can pop open the trunk so that Jesus can use the jack and the spare to fix their problem. Other’s see Jesus on the side of the road and invite him to hop in the passenger’s seat so they can have Him tag along as they continue to set their own life’s direction. In truth, however, following Jesus is giving Him the driver’s seat and letting Him steer your life wherever He wants it to go. So tell me, when it comes to the cards of your life, are you “all in”?

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