Read this article from top to bottom. This is quite long, but I believe it’s worth the read. If you can outsmart the writer and predict what his answer’s going to be, then you win. In the other hand, if you’re just an average guy with the average answers, you lose.
Sometimes, we like to use analogies to depict our lives in order to get some points across. That’s of course legal. The Bible writers did that all the time. We compare our lives to wheels to remind us that sometimes we’re upside while some other times we’re down, or to a race to remind us of our goal and to never give up (Paul), or to grass and the flower of the field to remind us that everything is vain outside the Lord (Peter), or even to a box of chocolate to remind us that not all things are predictable (Forrest Gump’s Mother).
Now what if I recommend that in your leisure times, you imagine your lives as a casino and learn from it? What can you tell me? What can you share? I bet all my coins (pun intended) that you’ll tell me that the casino teaches us one of these three lessons. I bet that you won’t see the obvious lesson that I’m going to tell you and I’m going to tell you why.
Editor’s note: User experience may vary but take or give it’ll be similar so don’t come pestering me on small details if you lose.
First, for all of you who directly thought of a Black Jack table when you heard the word casino, you probably will speak about self control. You’ll come up to a conclusion about how to manage our resources and about how to draw just enough cards so that you don’t go beyond the threshold. Simpler minded fellows will speak about how life is all about taking chances.
Second, for you who’re more daring and imagined a Roulette wheel, you’ll probably share that in life, it’s the thrills that count. When your wheel starts to turn, there’s no telling where the ball will fall. If you’re a detail freak, you’ll probably add that in life, you can choose a color (and have a 50:50 chance of winning) or you can choose a number (and have a 1/38 chance of winning everything on the bet table).
And third, for those Casino Royale and Texas Hold’em fans, you’ll say that life, as it is in Poker game, is a game of wits. In life, you get to draw cards and throw away cards to make the highest possible arrangement of hands. Some melancholic readers will speak about how life is all about emotion while choleric readers will say that life is all about bluffing.
How am I doing so far? Good enough, I guess.
So what’s this bet all about? Before that, I’ll have to declare that if when I say casino you start thinking about Black Jack or Roulette or Poker or any other game, then I win. And there’s only one reason for this: you directly placed yourselves as a gambler. I place myself as a casino. That’s why I win as the casinos mostly do. You lose as the gamblers more often than not do. So let me show you some lessons from behind the tables and how to relate it to your spiritual lives.
First of all, the casino only plays the games they can win. I know up front that most of the article readers will think of the gambling rather than the casino even though I asked you to think about the casino (not the gambling). How can we determine if we can win a game or not? It’s the RoTG (Rule of The Game). In any game in a casino, there is NOT ONE game where your chance of winning is bigger than the casino’s. Why? It’s the RoTG. The RoTG favors the casino. In our spiritual life, be the casino. Be the one taking advantage of the RoTG. Be the one shuffling the cards and spinning the wheels. Be the one in favor of the RoTG. And I bet all of us can guess what our RoTG is. Psalm 1 speaks of those who play by the Book. And we can read clearly that they’re the winning ones, the ones that are like trees planted by streams of water and whatever they do prosper. Read your Bible and live your lives from it. Don’t be the occasional visitors. Be the one playing it every time of everyday.
Second, the casino plays by numbers. There is a 0% chance that one man can walk into a casino and make the casino bankrupt. We can do all the maths here, but in layman term, the casino limits their losses (or in other words, they limit your wins). We call this self control. When you walk to a table bringing $100,000 worth of chips, there aren’t many games where you can put all the chips in a single bet. While it’s true that this limits their earning per game, but more importantly, this limits their loss as well. They play one game at a time, surely taking away your chips from you slowly. Once or twice they lose but they are always prepared for another game if you still want it. Take this into account every time you bring yourselves to temptation. Control yourselves. Control your exposure to temptations. Control your distance from sin. Paul wrote to the Romans, “do not offer the parts of your body to sin,” when he addressed how we can easily tempted to wager our redeemed lives away only for fleshly desires.
The last thing we can learn from a casino today is probably the most important one for our lives in this post-modern era. The casino wins all the time because they are the casino. They do not get excited when they’re winning. They do not get angry or frustrated when they’re losing. They do not get tired of doing the same thing again and again and again day to day to day. Gamblers get excited, angry, frustrated, bored, tired, seduced, drunk, and all the other emotions when they play. And in the end, the casino wins. In our Christianity today, many build their faith upon experiences and emotions. These are shaky grounds. Christians want spectacular encounter with God. They want their sickness healed. They want supernatural languages. They want their emotions to be deeply touched by the music at the beginning of the mass at church and they want their bodies to be heavily rocked at the end of the service. They want someone telling them that they are dreaming God and going back and forth to heaven (and sometimes to hell as well). These are all experiences and emotions and these are (again) shaky grounds (and I think we all know that shaky grounds are dangerous, right?). Christians don’t like mundane routine of monastery-like lives. They don’t like waking up in the morning to read the Bible and pray. They want to wake up in the morning and miracles happen all day long. They don’t want to toil and work hard. They want to put their hands on whatever they want and place a purchase order to God. Too bad they don’t know that’s not the way how it works.
Faith is not build upon logic. We all know it by now seeing that Pilate didn’t free Jesus just as Festus and Agrippa didn’t free Paul after logic kicked in hard in both cases. Faith is not build upon eye witness. We found Thomas dumbfounded for thinking (and speaking) about it. Faith is not build upon proofs. We could see many Israelites faithless although Jesus did miracles after miracles in front of their noses. And now we have to admit that faith is not build upon experiences and emotions. Countless examples from the Bible can be taken, but one shocking truth can be learned from Matthew 7:22-23 that even a practitioner can build their faith upon something so wrong. So what should we base our faith upon? Ephesians reminds us that it is by grace through faith (2:8-10). Romans adds that it’s from faith to faith (1:17) and that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ (10:17). Don’t be the gambler or occasional visitor who seeks excitement. Be the casino that grows its revenue day by day with poker face and strict rules.
In the end, I believe that when God saved us through His Son, Jesus Christ, He didn’t plan to gamble on us. He didn’t do it for the sake of seeing whether we make it till the end or not. We are meant to be winners. Jesus said, “I come that they (we) may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10b).” John later added in I John 5:4 that, “everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” The same John (supposedly) then later added in Revelation 17:14 when speaking about the victory of the lamb that, “and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.”
PS: I am NOT a fan of casino or gambling (well, perhaps a little, just joking). It’s the message that counts. And I hope we are all mature enough to get it well and be edified from it.