Last month I wrote about the idea of being “all in” for Christ! Yesterday I heard a message at church that put some Scripture behind this thought that I had never used in this way… but to that in just a minute.
During camps I will often have the teams compete in shooting races or dribbling races; the rules being that the losing team has to do push-ups. (These are not punishment but instead discipline to do an exercise that makes the players stronger.) Typically when I am at a new facility I will take time to walk up beside one of the players from the winning team that seems to really care about getting better and whisper, “While you are standing here gloating, they are getting stronger.” And the usual response is for that kid to drop down and start doing push-ups also.
This year I returned to a couple different places where I had done that before and at each place kids on the winning team dropped to do push-ups also. You see, the losers do “have-to” push-ups; the winners do “want-to” push-ups. Does every winner choose to do so? Absolutely not; some are content with the short-term gratification. But some catch the vision of becoming stronger…
There are some players that are very obedient and will do/give exactly what is asked of them to the coach; then there are the ones that are “all in” and will go above and beyond; those that spend even their spare time striving to get stronger/better. These are players that aren’t concerned with the minimum requirements but instead are concerned with maximum effort and sacrifice.
Now back to yesterday’s message at Lifepoint Church in Rainsville, AL: the worship pastor was actually doing the message in a series called “Confessions of a Pastor.” He came right out of the gate admitting he is not good at being a “Christ follower.”
(Some of you are already feeling a bit uncomfortable… because you equate following with your salvation. Yet, he did an awesome job of reminding that salvation is based upon faith in the finished work of Christ and that following is post-salvation out of gratitude for the incredible gift we have received!)
He shared his testimony of being an obedient church kid and young adult; even of serving in the church and following all the rules. He then confessed that was because that seemed to be the bare minimum of what was required of him; and that did not equate to his steps looking like Jesus’ steps. He reminded us that there is a problem when we are known more for “what we are against” than for “what we are for.”
Well I could go on trying to recreate his message here but I think you get the point. The Scriptures are clear that people should know us (and more importantly glorify God) by the good works and love we show. Now on to the passage he used (which I use all the time; yet he noticed a truth that eluded me.)
Luke 10: 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading ”27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Look at verse 29… “…he, wanting to justify himself…” Did you catch it? He is saying, “Lord, define ‘neighbor’ for me so I know what the minimum requirement is for me.” This is a guy with a religious outlook on life; one that is seeking to earn favor with “The Coach” by being obedient.
Yet Jesus responds with the story of the Good Samaritan and reminds him (and us) that going the extra mile of love to those that are typically unlovely according to society defines our neighbors… Showing mercy is time consuming, messy, and costly… yet that is someone that is “all in!”
I think about how many areas of our lives we seek to “justify” ourselves. The obvious and easy picture is in our giving… instead of giving cheerfully to help reach people we pat ourselves on the back for giving 10%. What if 11% was needed, or 12%, or… you get the picture. What if we applied that to things beyond our financial giving?
Let’s move beyond the “have-to”s to the “want-to”s in serving the Lord! Let’s move from “what is the minimum required of me” to what is the “maximum I can give.”