By Matt Tullos
Stewardship Development Specialist, TBMB
We’ve seen this scene played out in countless westerns. The weather-beaten cowboy in the dusty western saloon looks across the table and pushes all his chips to the center. For better or for worse, he’s all-in.
John the Baptist was all-in, too. He couldn’t be categorized as anything other than completely, radically, undeniably committed. His calling and mission propelled him into the vortex of the Jesus story. What do you call a man who wears camel’s skin? How do you explain a consistent diet of wild honey and extra-crispy locust?
He improvised His way through all the things we call “necessities.”
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs obviously wasn’t on John’s radar. Basic needs? Food, water, rest? To John? Not that important. Safety? Not on the radar. Belonging? No, not really a mission statement of John the Baptist. Esteem? He gave that up a long time ago. The things that we think of as vitally important, paled in comparison to his mission of beating down a path for the Savior of the universe.
At the very foundation of John’s life was the realization of his mission and purpose in the story. The story wasn’t about him. It was about the one who was to come.
This man was all-in on the one thing that would matter. He had no reputation, no retirement plan, no family, no boat, no wardrobe, and no one to impress. This was John the Baptist. I wonder what would happen if we all laid everything on the table like that? It’s a “betting the farm” faith. It’s a faith that is founded on the concept that the mission is vaster than the person.
Every day I hear the whisper of God inviting me to surrender a little more every day. What would happen if I was truly all-in? It would radically change the way I use my time, my gifts and my money.
Let’s take it a step further. What would happen if our churches were all-in on the Great Commission? We can say for sure, things would be different. We’d throw our preferences, our biases and our caution to the wind. I believe if we were all-in for the Great Commission, we’d look at the mission of our church and realize the power of cooperation. If all churches went all-in with the Cooperative Program, imagine how many people we could reach in Tennessee, North America and around the world!
Recently Ronnie Floyd of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, announced a new five-year initiative for the SBC and its entities. “Vision 2025 is not a slogan or rallying cry,” Floyd said in a Baptist Press article.
“It’s a path forward to help us reimagine a new future together of reaching the world for Jesus Christ — every person, every town, every city, every state and every nation.” Vision 2025 challenges Southern Baptists to send out a net gain of 500 missionaries internationally, to welcome 6,000 new churches to the Southern Baptist family, and to surpass $500 million given through the Cooperative Program. If we are “all-in,” if we have a whatever-it-takes, John the Baptist-type of commitment, we’d shatter these goals.
The greatest enemies we face are all internal: near-sighted ministry, needless quarreling over minor issues, political yelping and tweeting, and an inability to unite.
When we stand before God, after our time comes to a close, I believe we’ll have an opportunity to celebrate how much we were willing to sacrifice as churches and individuals for the sake of this great call. We’ll be surrounded by ordinary people who were all-in: believers fed to the lions of the Roman empire, Chinese Christians who thrived in an environment of atheism and our forefathers who lived on little so we could receive so much more. I want to be numbered with the all-believing, go-for-broke, all-in radicals of the Christian faith. When it’s all said and done, it will be so worth it.