I’m not much of a card player. There are a few card games that I enjoy, but just in groups and just for fun. No gambling. But several years ago, I did find poker tournaments on TV to be rather interesting. I watched a few just out of curiosity. When something new hits the scene and is gaining in popularity, I’ll almost always check it out to see what all the fuss is about. Well, if you’ve ever watched these tournaments, they seemingly go on forever. But every so often, a player will decide that they have a hand that is so unbeatable that they will call, “all in,” and by that they mean they are betting everything they have on this hand. Either they will at least double the amount of money they have, or they walk away with absolutely nothing. It’s an incredibly gutsy and risky move.
Well, this Advent we celebrate that in Christ, God was “all in” for you and for me. In Christ, God held nothing back and came fully into the total experience of humanity for humanity. And in Christ, God did such in typical God fashion—forcing nothing, imposing nothing, merely welcoming and inviting and calling any and all who would follow. In addition, in Christ, God made Godself vulnerable to the worst we could do Him—rejection, ridicule, even death. And God did this all to show us the depth of God’s love for us.
It was, and is, an incredibly risky move to come with such vulnerability, to leave the outcome up to us. For if we say “no,” if we won’t respond in like fashion, if we choose to look to lesser gods to guide us, to build our lives around, then…in a real way…it’s over. God can do no more, nothing greater. If we won’t respond to Christ, we’re just not going to respond, and the whole God movement is pretty much dead in the water.
It’s this rather stark realization that drives home the preparation part of Advent. It’s why John the Baptist inevitably pops up in Advent, for he reminds us that what we celebrate is more than beautified manger scenes and Silent Night, that the Christ event is also serious business. Yes, John the Baptist reminds us that while in Christ, God is saying, “I’m all in for you,” God is also asking the reciprocal question, “Are you all in for me?”
Well, are we? Do we allow God’s supreme definition of love to impact us, change us? Do we allow it to reach down deep to heal the most troubled parts of our soul? Do we allow it to then call us to far greater love for God, others, and self? If in Christ coming to earth, God is saying, “I’m betting on you,” how have we responded? Far more importantly, how will we respond? If the ball is in our court now, if the state of the God movement is now dependent on your response and my response and our response, what is the state of the God movement today? What are God’s chances now that God is betting “all in” on us?
So this Advent/Christmas season, enter into all the joy, wonder and beauty it represents, but please don’t get lost in it. Take time to reflect on the depth of the love of a God who is “All In” for us, and how that can and should impact our lives.
This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the December edition of Together.