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WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 08, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is 1st Corinthians 9:22-23, where the Apostle Paul writes,   

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.


ALL-IN!

 

I’m not much of a poker player. When I was growing up, my family tended not to be card players (though the occasional, raucous game of “May I” could be cited as evidence to the contrary). But I do know the meaning of the phrase, “all-in.” How about you? In cards, and especially in the game Texas Hold-Em, “all-in” is when a player decides to put all of his chips on the table. At that moment, he/she bets all they have to either win or lose everything. Back in the days of the Wild West, they called it ''betting the ranch.'' This was not just putting all that you had that night into the pot, but risking everything you owned. That’s an “all-in” commitment in a game! What about an “all-in” commitment in life?

In this text, Paul demonstrates the “all-in” commitment of the Christian life in service to others. He’s talking about being committed to something more important than cash, property, or even all of one’s accumulated wealth. He’s talking about the things of God, the things of faith, which give meaning to all of life, now and forever. He then applies the “all-in” spirit that comes from faith to serving others for the sake of their eternal lives.

As believers in Jesus, before talking about becoming “all things to all people” in order to save some, we first need to understand God’s “all-in” love and forgiveness for us because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, it’s impossible for us to be “all-in” for others on our own because we are sinful, broken people. God has to be “all-in” for our forgiveness and salvation before we can be of service to others in His name. Elsewhere, Paul speaks about a mindset that understands and trusts in God’s “all-in” love for us in Jesus. He describes the basis for it in Philippians 2:5-8 with these powerful words:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Those who put their faith IN Christ Jesus are free to care about others with an “all-in” commitment, not because of their works of love for others, but because God’s love and forgiveness are certain for them by grace through faith in Jesus. Confident in Christ alone, we can strive to be “all things to all people” so that we might save some. We can even be willing to pay the price that comes with sharing the Gospel of Jesus with others. We can be prepared to be uncomfortable, put out, challenged, or even ridiculed because our strength to share Christ comes from Christ, and our concern for neighbor is about them, not us. 

Luther describes that faith life of freedom in this way: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none; a Christian is a dutiful servant to all, subject to all.”[1] In other words, Christians can be “all-in” for loving others in Christ’s name because Christ is “all-in” for them as their crucified and risen Savior.

Whenever you’re struggling with loving others, just remember God’s “all-in” love for you. Then get back to being His person by loving them in His name.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the love You demonstrated and the salvation You accomplished not only for me, but for all people. Give me strength and courage to turn my full attention to those in my life, especially those who need to know You. AMEN.

 

[1] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, American Edition, volume 31, page 344.

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