All In

The expression “All In” is one I began using several years ago in my teaching and preaching to try to capture the reality that being a disciple of Jesus controls every thing I say and do: I am to be “ALL IN.”

I am, I think, as relaxed as a Christian as I have ever been. Whether my teachers as a younger man intended it or not, I grew up with a practical sense of “works” based salvation. I didn’t say or teach that salvation was works based, but that was the underlying reality of it.

God used many events to bring me along, but what began to noticeably get my attention was a secular job I held in a sales organization. As a branch manager I was to promote sales as well as run the branch office according to the corporate guidelines.

I focused so much on strict adherence to the most minute guidelines that the sales pretty much went away. The sales force was disheartened and had lost all enthusiasm even though most of them still showed up for the sales meetings.

When approached by the Division Manager, I was forced to answer one question: “Is this business about sales or rules?” My response was: “I’m an ‘It-is-written’ kind of guy.” His response to that was sharp: “That’s too bad because this is an ‘are-there-sales?’ kind of job.”

It took several more years for that little seed to grow, but I eventually realized that while the “rules” are not to be ignored, they are not the primary focus. That realization came full circle when I was reading the account of “the Good Samaritan.” In the run-up, Jesus was talking to an “it-is-written” kind of guy and identified his problem. Mine was the same problem: it is easier to feel superior than to have the right overall perspective.

Everything in the “rules” falls under two categories: (1) Everything is supposed to be about God and His purposes & (2) The best interests of others. It’s not about me. It is about God. It is about God’s decisions, timetable, results, glory, etc. This applies to every aspect of life, not just what looks religious!

Now in my conversations, sermons, classes, etc., if I can’t connect my lesson’s foundation to one of those targets, I don’t say it.