Going ‘all in’ with commitment to faith

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2017

By Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins

If you play the Lottery, or Bingo, or go to a casino, you readily acknowledge the reality of the “odds,” both pro and con, of being financially successful in the endeavor.

Even if the odds are extraordinary, even worse than the potential of getting struck by lightning, the enticement of the reward may be too much to resist.

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Consider the glitzy slot machine, with its myriad scores of flashing lights, snappy graphics and enticing sounds. Gleefully, perhaps with a cocktail in hand, the seduced participant approaches not knowing what the machine will, or will not, pay out. Repetitively putting coins into the voracious machine, the glazed look of disappointment soon begins to appear, as the reality of loss begins to set in. “After all,” they intone. “the casino has to retain some profit for the stockholders and pay the electric bill.  But, why do they have to take so much?” Sadly for some, as in many of life’s activities, this becomes an addiction to the ruin of their lives.

In the football season, “What are the odds?” is a most common question. We want to know the odds of who is going to win the contest between Mississippi State versus LSU, or between the Saints and the Dirty Birds. This is not usually done to place a wager on the events, but to be prepared for the outcome.

We are comforted when the odds are in our favor, and dismayed when they are not; hoping and, even praying, that the phantom odds-makers are just idiots, nincompoops, and grievously wrong about something they, clearly, know nothing about.

Other than the gambling addicted, or spendthrifts, few of us would go “all in” with our financial resources. We too want to play the odds for success. We too want to hedge our bets to ensure we may go on in our lives without serious impediments, or decrease.

Yet, the experiences of our lives often carry over into our spirituality and worship. Indeed, it seeps into the very practices of our Christian faith.

Some, we would call devout, have gone “all in” in their commitment to Christ and His message to us. Some of us continue to consider the odds, and hold back in our commitment to the Faith.

It is such an easy and understandable thing to do. “After all, we are human, right? Just perhaps, at the Judgment, we will be given mercy, right? Well, then, what are the odds?” we may ask.

Only God knows what the odds are, and He has not shared this information. Only God will give us mercy, and we cannot demand it from Him; as the odds are very clear if we attempt to do so. What He has told us, is we are to love Him with all of our hearts, souls and minds. What He has told us is we are to give everything up to Him, to receive His mercy.

If we are to truly follow God’s commands, then we are “all in.” We are “all in” with the very fiber of our being and not “hedging our bets,” in the potential chance there is no truth in His Promise. This is the true gamble of life itself; both in the earthly and eternal.

In our humanness we, far too often, analyze the potential for our successes through the lenses of our personal egos. It clouds our judgments, and places us ahead of our Creator.  In doing so, we are not “all in,” and greatly increase the “odds,” against having eternal life.