Saturday, September 26, 2020

You Are Invited . . . To Be "All In"!


If you invited me to a reunion dinner these days, I’d probably give a half-hearted response. I’ll come . . .  if I’m up to it, if the COVID thing settles down, if the weather is nice. I would want to come, but I’m not too eager to join groups right now.

Do you know Puritan churches once offered a “Half-Way Covenant”? In those days infants were baptized and became church members only after they made a confession of faith in Christ. Until then, they could not take communion or vote in church affairs. But many members failed to take that step, and then the question became, could their children be baptized?

To bolster church membership, they offered a Half-Way Covenant that allowed such children to be baptized into church membership. Problem solved.

But was it really? Is a half-hearted response to spiritual matters any response at all?

Last week, Janine challenged us to “Own It.” I’d like to challenge us to be “All In.”

Christ invites us to live the abundant, fruitful life (notice the grapes on the invitation). But what does it mean to be “all in” for Christ? I want to be “all in,” but am I?

For starters, it’s not a matter of policy but of purpose. Is Christ the Centerpiece of my life? Do I care about what honors Him and what distracts me from Him? How often do I think of Him? When I’m in a snit, does what pops out of my mouth reflect His respect for others?

Well, I’m working on this. I’m not perfect in spite of the fact that I’ve had a few years and a lot of practice. And wrong thoughts are just as bad. I wish there were a way to block thoughts the way we block telephone calls. The best we can do is hang up when the thought rings through.

Then it’s not a matter of Sunday church attendance but of everyday abiding. On good days and bad days. Even when we feel God abandoned us. Remember Jesus said, “Abide in me,” or as newer translations read “Remain in me, as I also remain in you” (John 15:4 NIV). Do we seek to know Jesus better? How might we do that?

Bible study and prayer are good places to start. Take just 15 minutes a day and you’ll read through the Bible in a year. But we can’t just read—we must do what it says. Christ’s Sermon on the Mount outlines His desire for us to lead lives of kindness and forgiveness. Do I extend that kind of grace to others? How are you doing?

There’s also the matter of serving Him instead of suiting yourself. Does God ask me to enter full-time Christian service or to serve Him in my family as a wife or mother or sibling. Christiana Tsai of China turned down good positions so she could live in her family’s apartment complex and talk to relatives about God; she led 55 relatives to Christ. Might God call you to an office? Or a classroom? Or on a stage? Have you ever considered what He might expect from you, given the way you’re wired?

I’ve served God in many ways during my 80 years on this earth. The ways have changed according to my age, but He has something for each of us at any age and any stage. We serve Him as we care for our families, training them in His ways. We serve Him in our workplaces as we show His traits to others. After all, we are made in His Image. And God works within us to help us mature in Christ:

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ” Philippians 1:6 (NIV).

But the first step of it all is not just being religious but of establishing a relationship, a relationship with Christ.

Not everyone will be saved and go to heaven. God is Holy, Pure, Perfect, and nothing less than perfection can come into His Presence. Ever since God established a relationship with the nation of Israel, He required sacrifices to cover the sins of people. Christ died to take the punishment I deserve. He has become the final sacrifice required to make us holy with God. Have I accepted Him as my Savior? Yes, I have. Have you?

Let’s cooperate with God. We aren’t half-hearted in caring for our families or doing our jobs. So we should not be half-hearted in our relationship with God. I’m working on being whole-hearted and all in! Are you?

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