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  • Writer's pictureJosh Reading


Updated: Sep 18, 2023

To a friend who writes about a journey to / back into Eastern Orthodoxy. At this moment I am not posting the original blog post link to allow reasonable distance for those not connected to this matter. I may in the future if needed.

ALL IN. "Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” Mark 10:21 - 22

Dear Friend, Although not on your blog, it was in your facebook responses that 'ALL IN' Culture in the Church pushes some away from the Church and arguably Christ. I would like to address this. Do we believe that Christian’s have to be fully sold out or ‘All in’? The posture of ALL IN is taught in Divergent Church because that is what Jesus taught and what his Apostles taught and modelled.

Unsurprisingly it is then displayed constantly throughout Church history.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest command was, “He answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus Luke 10:27 “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24) Philippians 3:7–8: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count EVERYTHING AS LOSS because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24, ESV). Lastly, Jesus himself from Luke 14:25 - 35... "25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Luke 14:25 - 35) The issue in the Church is not that the Church is too "ALL IN" focused. It is that it is not ALL IN enough. This is, as Jesus warns us, hard to hear but it is in losing our life, we find it. So are you saying those who walk away because they don’t want to be ‘ALL IN’ are not included? Some people most certainly don’t want to be 'all in', that is for sure. I can’t speak for someone’s eternal salvation unless I know they have denied the Lordship of Jesus and his death and resurrection (Matt 10:33, 2 Tim 2:12)

However, in terms of community, if they just wander, we are to call them back (James 5:19 - 20). So many people are actually simply lost, the doors are open, however if they call themselves believers and they are living in unrepentance, the short answer by Paul is simple, the unrepentant are absolutely to be excluded until repentance. Some may think this harsh, but people can take this up with Jesus and Paul. “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” 1 Cor 5:9 – 13 I had a conversation with a person a couple months ago. This person had been a leader in Christian community. After calls for a related third person to repent of their overt and proud sin, and this person remaining defiant and unrepentant ,we decided to exclude them from community in, as Paul states, the hope they “may be saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Cor 5:5b) Unfortunately, my friend decided they know better than Paul. It is arrogance, even narcissism to think we can replace the conviction of the Holy Spirit through our continued friendship with unrepentant 'brothers and sisters' despite what Paul says. The distance created through removal from the community of grace hopefully creates a desire a return to, if not, they will leave grace by their own choice in their unrepentant state. How is a person included? Of course through repentance, because that is how we are saved and if repentant, then the door to community is open. When we allow sin to run rampant, for people to make excuse for their sin but live in unrepentant posture we are not loving them to Jesus, we are enabling their destruction and if including them in community, we are enabling the corruption and destruction of the whole Church (1 Cor 5:6 – 8) Do I believe all believers should always aim to be ‘ALL IN’?

Of course!!! That is what Jesus expected. Recorded in Luke 18, Matt 19 and Mark 10:17 onwards from where I will quote…

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

18 ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.”[a]’

20 ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

Some people if not knowing this was Jesus himself might judge him because surely the demands are a little steep. Unfortunately, some go away because they are not willing to give up everything to, as Paul says it “know the surpassing riches of knowing Christ” Time and time again, Jesus called us to deny ourselves (Matt 16:24) to love the Lord with every fibre of our being (Luke 10:27) Paul says to consider everything compared to Jesus and his kingdom nothing (Phil 3:7 – 8). Paul tells us that the body is so precious that we must not allow unrepentant sin to take root (1 Cor 5:5 – 13) Do we do these things perfectly? Of course not, but when we fail, we repent, and we return to fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2) Though clearly not Jesus, a great example to us all is Dietrich Bonhoeffer who helps us understand the meaning of self-denial when he wrote:

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (The Cost of Discipleship, SCM Press, 2015, p. 44).

As such, many are going to have to put up with me rolling my eyes when they complain about rosters, cranky ladies being dismissive or relatively minor challenges when the Church historic and global literally loses their families, professions, lives and earthly futures due to faith. These are first world entitlement problems.

I don’t count myself or my family among those who have paid such a high price but I also know I speak with credibility when I say we, including my children have paid a higher price then the vast majority of western raised Christians I know.

Nonetheless, I am still passionately committed to the bride Jesus loves, whether in the nation I reside or Australia and the rest of the globe.

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