“See, we have left everything and followed you.” –Peter
Leaving something behind that is good is difficult. Ask the countless men and women wearing the uniform. Ask the men who are heading offshore to work after being around their families for a short time. Ask the missionary going to an unknown and far off place.
In the gospel of Mark Jesus has just explained how difficult it is for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. The impossibility of it was only made possible by the grace of God. Peter in turn states an honest question about the situation. The rich young man wouldn’t leave his wealth to follow after Jesus, but he had. What was the difference in their decisions?
Jesus responds in Mark 10:29-31.
29“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
For those who decide that leaving behind something good for the advancement of the gospel will always be apart of something greater. I say this with a qualifier right after it and it is this. What God views as greater will most likely not be what culture defines as greater for your life.
Here are the three tangible things that happen when we prayerfully, loving, and intentionally leave something good for the sake of the gospel.
1. We inherit a new home, family and community.
When someone sees the need for the good news to go to a place where it is needed whether local or abroad this act will be difficult, yet Jesus says that there will be a new family that you will become apart of, a new place that will become home to you, and a new community that you will be apart of. This is on top of what you already have left! There is no doubt that the situation will be different but God is still faithful to give a new place to live and enjoy for those who decide to leave for the sake of the gospel. The relationships built in the place that you arrive will be placed in your life by a sovereign God that loves you. These bonds will last for a lifetime. Ask a missionary.
2. We receive suffering.
I do not know how leaving somewhere where the gospel is more common to go somewhere where it is less common will not receive some type of persecution. The difficulty of leaving is heavy enough, but also the difficulty of loving people who are in an area that is touched less by Jesus will cause difficulties in our lives. Leaving will result in suffering. Jesus said that this would be so.
3. We receive an eternal reward.
Those who leave because of the surpassing greatness of the gospel will be rewarded. No one should flaunt their amazing obedience but the lifestyle that they are embracing does affect eternity, and God does not overlook those who leave behind earthly pleasures to seek out people who are in need of good news. There is a reward for those who leave, and eternity will sing of it.
Leaving something good is never easy. Leaving a good life for a different one rooted in loving others can seem far off and even scary. But God will not leave or forsake those who make this leap. Leaving just might make a greater impact on our current life and in eternity than staying in something “good.”
Caleb Rawls – is the pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi, and husband to Taylor Rawls. Together they strive to lead the church to reach out to their community and world. And yes, they have a dog named Tiglath-Pileser.