A popular sermon series by many pastors is entitled "All In".
This series comes from the Great Commandment verses in the Bible taken completely out of context and is intended to motivate believers to be "all in" for God, to move them from being "a spectator to a participator" in the church.
If believers are not careful, they will be misled by this series, trying to be "all in" for God, when God is not asking them to be "all in" for him.
Pastors will use the following verses for their "All In" series:
"One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him [Jesus] with a question: “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?”
Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:35-40; see also Luke 10:25-37).
These verses, in their context, were never intended by Jesus to motivate believers to be "all in" for God or to move them from being "a spectator to a participator" in their churches.
These verses were taken out of context by the Pharisees to test Jesus.
Jesus responded to them, not to believers in churches, when quoting these verses.
To understand how Jesus used these verses, based upon the context of the Pharisees' attempts to test him, we must understand the mindset of the Pharisees.
The Pharisees knew to become righteous before God and possess eternal life, all of the Ten Commandments needed to be obeyed fully.
They prided themselves on the faulty belief that they had fully obeyed all of the Ten Commandments.
But then Jesus, in his wisdom, held the two Great Commandments before them to convince them they had not obeyed the Ten Commandments, not at all!
This was because the Ten Commandments hung on the two Great Commandments, as quoted by Jesus in the above verses.
The Pharisees, who appeared to be righteous in their attempts to obey the Ten Commandments, were actually unrighteous internally because they did not have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42).
They did not love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind. Nor did they love others as themselves.
Therefore, they broke all of the Ten Commandments with all of their heart, all of their soul, all of their strength, and all of their mind.
The purpose of the two Great Commandments and the Ten Commandments are to convince people they can't be "all in" for God and are in desperate need of God's grace.
Once they see their need for God's grace, they admit their sin and accept God's grace through faith in Jesus.
At this point, the believer is removed from the law, both the two Great Commandments and the Ten Commandments.
This person now relates to God based upon "all that God did for them in Jesus" and not by being "all in for God".
Be careful, pastors will also tell their congregations to be "all in for Jesus, since Jesus went all in for them."
This, too, is not biblical (except the part that Jesus went all in for them!).
Jesus went all in for us because we can't be all in for him. Never could. Never will be able to.
We now live by faith in Jesus, who loved us, gave himself for us, and lives within us by his Spirit, enabling us to call God "Abba, Father", meaning...My Daddy who loves me!"
We now live by and are led by the Spirit of Christ from within.
The Spirit leads us to experience the Father's love and then produces the Father's love within us, which overflows to others.
The Spirit will never lead us to be "all in for God" or "all in for Jesus."
Rather, the Spirit leads those who are not under law to experience and express the Father's love, something the two Great Commandments nor the Ten Commandments could ever do.
So this year, do not be misled by pastors seeking to motivate their church members to become participators instead of spectators.
Check out every sermon you hear and the verses used by examing each of them in their biblical context, then you will not be misled by any sermon series such as "All In".
As you do, remember, we can never apply a verse to our lives in a way that is different from its context and original intent, as many pastors do in their "All In" series and in many other sermon series.