Last Tuesday at The Porch we talked about the Rich Young Ruler. Nobody wants to be that guy – the one immortalized for making the wrong choice, the one who missed out on what Jesus had to offer because he held on too tightly to what he already had. I’ve almost made the same mistake multiple times, so that encounter with Jesus is incredibly meaningful to me.
Do you have something that’s holding you back from going all in with Jesus? Whatever it may be, it’s not worth hanging onto at the expense of an abiding, sold-out relationship with Him. Dive into the Bible to see what you can learn from the true story of a guy who made the worst mistake possible – walking away from Jesus. And I hope you can learn something from my story too.
Do you think that you bring something to the table in your relationship with God? That your “Christian resume” gets you points with Him? I used to think so. I trusted Christ at an early age, but I got a lot of my identity from being a missionary kid, pastor’s kid, youth group leader, worship band member, camp counselor, and all-around “good guy”. I avoided most of what I thought were the major sins like sex, drinking, and drugs. But I had no community around me and I was indulging in secret sins that I could easily hide, like pornography. I felt some conviction, but I thought I could fix myself and keep from sinning as much by trying harder. That never worked. I was having an affair with self-reliance, and it was slowly killing my faith.
When I was in my early 20’s, God used the pain of my dying faith as a warning sign that made me call out to Him. And when I cried out to Him in desperation, He showed up! For the first time I experienced the healing and grace that follows confession of sin. I learned that even if you are a Christian, as I was, relying on your own power to try to fix yourself will kill your faith and keep you from going all-in with Jesus. You can’t do anything on your own.
It’s even scarier if you haven’t trusted Christ. Do you think that your good deeds will get you into heaven? It’s not going to happen. The Bible says that people die once, and after that they face judgment. If you think that the “good” side of your scale is heavy enough to balance out the bad in that judgment, the Bible’s news to you is that even your good works are like filthy rags (literally, a used menstrual garment). Only God’s grace can save you.
Are you trying to fix yourself? Whether you’re a Christian trying to do better, or a nonbeliever thinking that you’re good enough to get into heaven, relying on yourself is an absolute dead end.
Jesus had some serious words about being willing to give things up to follow Him: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:34b-36).
I used to be afraid of going all in because I thought that God would make me be a missionary in Africa, which I had zero desire to do. More recently, the issue in my heart has been money, which is why I resonated so much with the Rich Young Ruler. I have undergrad and graduate degrees in business, and I spent the first seven years of my career as a management consultant traveling around the country and the world. I was making six figures by my mid-20s, and I felt in control of my life and future because of my salary.
And then, not quite four years ago, I had a conversation with JP while we were in Haiti on a discipleship trip. He asked me to pray about coming on staff at Watermark. My inner reaction was something like this: “Wait, what?! And make a pastor’s salary? I don’t think so, but thanks for asking.” But I did pray about it and process the decision with my community group, and over the following month or two it became really clear to me that it’s what God wanted me to do.
What was holding me up wasn’t how a pastor’s salary would affect me as a single guy, but instead things like supporting a family, buying a house, sending kids to college, etc. – all things that are still in the future. Being afraid of giving up the ability to easily pay for all of those things could have kept me from going all in with this opportunity to join the Watermark team. But I very clearly felt God leading me to make the move, and to trust Him to provide what I needed, when I needed it.
So I took the plunge and the pay cut. A couple years in, JP asked me to summarize my thoughts on the transition in less than five words. I only needed two: “no regrets.” There has not been a single day that I have regretted going all in on what God was calling me to do.
What’s the step of faith that God wants you to take? He may not be calling you to be an overseas missionary or work at a church, but He does want you to be on mission wherever you are! He has good works in store for you that He wants you to do. Don’t let the fear of giving something up hold you back from going all in. Trust me – you’ll get all that and more when it really counts – in heaven.
If you think you’d get a raw deal by going all in with Jesus, pay attention to His words from John 10:10, “…I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.” Life to the full! You may rightly believe that Jesus gives you eternal life if you trust in Him, but here’s another thought to chew on…eternal life starts NOW. The abundant eternal life that Jesus is talking about doesn’t just start when you die; it happens as you live for Him right here and now.
Now I don’t mean that in a prosperity gospel, health-and-wealth, God-will-give-you-that-lake-house kind of way at all. After all, Jesus also said in John 16:33 that in this world you WILL have trouble. In just the past month or two, people I know who love Jesus dearly have lost parents, lost children, and been diagnosed with cancer. But that doesn’t stop them from going all in with Jesus, because they know that God loves them and is working in the situation for their good, even though it’s incredibly difficult.
If you go all in with Jesus, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you don’t, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain! If you’re not a Christian, this world is as good as it will ever get for you. But if you are a Christian, this world is as bad as it will ever be for you! Heaven awaits.
Let’s just say you go all in with Jesus, and life gets really hard. Your body starts to fail. Your job is hard. Maybe you even lose a family member. What then? Was going all in with Jesus a bad decision? Not at all! Let’s hear this truth from Paul, a guy who was absolutely all in with Jesus and was beaten, flogged, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and left hungry, thirsty, cold, and naked:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Fix your eyes on the eternal glory that’s waiting for you if you follow Jesus. And go all in!
Here are some questions to think about and process with your community group:
Where in your life do you think that you’re “good enough”?
What are you afraid of giving up to go all in with Jesus?
What is holding you back from going all in with Jesus?
Do you really understand what you will gain from going all in with Jesus?
What’s a step that you can take this week towards going all in with Jesus?