We considered all-or-nothing thinking a character flaw in our 12-step recovery rooms. It was considered living, thinking and acting to extremes. We often saw things as black or white. No gray. No compromise. No negotiation. If we didn’t win or get our way, nobody won, we told ourselves. We set ourselves up for failure down the road, or we developed an “us-against-the-world” mentality.
Along my sanctifying journey, God taught me that as authentic followers of Christ, we’re either all in or all out. As large crowds were following Jesus, he turned around and said to them,
“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. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26-27
Jesus gave a few of his followers the same admonition in Luke 9
He said to one follower, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord,
first let me go and bury my father.”Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God. Luke 9:59-60
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:61-62
To me, Jesus is saying we have to be all in or all out. Our entire lives–our families, our possessions, our thoughts, our jobs, our worship, our relationships, our money, our love for others–EVERYTHING–must be completely surrendered to Him. We can’t be His disciples if we’re looking over our shoulder at our past, or even what happened yesterday. We can’t go back. We have to live and respond to Jesus today. We can’t claim a different top priority in our lives. We can’t believe part or most of what Jesus says. Jesus wants us to believe it all.
Are we going to act all in all the time? Of course not. No one can. But Christ gives us His standard of truth that will guide us as we make the choice daily to follow Him.
It’s His version of an all or nothing life. We’re either all in or all out.