Your April Devotion

Are you all in?

"All in" is almost never truly "all in." For the poker players out there, there is no greater thrill than pushing all your chips to the middle of the table hoping that you have something better than the other guy. Now, if you play in the low stakes games of poker I play sometimes, you probably lose only $20 or so. But if you're into high stakes poker, then you probably know what it's like to lose thousands on a single hand. But in both cases, "All in" is almost never truly "all in." When the other guy's flush comes up, you can still walk away from the table, get back in your car and drive back to your house. You didn't really go "all" in.

For many people across our country religion is like poker. "I just hope that at the end I have better cards than the other guy. I hope I picked the right religion, I hope I did more good than that guy," and so on. But when "all in" actually means "all in," the poker game of life becomes less thrilling and more terrifying. If you get it wrong, you're going to hell or not getting your spirit babies or getting reincarnated as a flea. None of those sound appealing...and the end of your life is a huge deal! So, how can anyone be sure?

Well, what's the universal problem? Everyone dies. So, the solution to the problem must lie in someone who is more powerful than death. Oh, sure, there are religions in the world that offer a solution to death. Reincarnation, populating your own planet, Moksha, a prosperous life, but all of those have caveats attached. Did you treat your neighbor well? Were you dedicated enough? Did you say the right words when you gave your life to Christ? It's like going "all in" without being sure that you win at the end.

The Apostle Paul was all in. He confessed that Jesus had come and saved him even though he had resisted and even attacked Christians. In fact, he was so all in that he basically said, "If I'm wrong, then I am by far the most pitiable person on earth." That's not the attitude that says, "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere." But the thrill for Paul was not just being all in, it was knowing that by being all in he was certain that he would win in the end. Why? Because he had seen Jesus defeat death! The risen Jesus appeared to him and told him to go become an apostle. That's why he wrote...

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. ~1 Corinthians 15:12-17

So, why can you be sure? Why can you be confident in going "all in" on Jesus? Because he already won. And the best part...? He came and found you, and pulled your life away from sin and hell. He didn't wait for you to come to him because he knew you couldn't. In a sense, Jesus stood over your shoulder and said, "I already won this hand, here are the chips to bet on it, trust me. You'll win in the end." Your past is forgiven by Jesus on the cross and your future is certain because the tomb is empty. He is the only one who can and has solved the problem of death. Alleluia!

God bless your Easter!
Vicar Caleb Schultz