It Is Worth It!
Simon Peter was stunned as he listened to the words of His Master. Peter, along with the other disciples, thought surely the most likely candidates for heaven were the rich. But on the contrary, Jesus said it was hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23-24). The young rich ruler had sought salvation (vs. 17), but when the Son of God told him the price "...sell all you possess, and give it the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, and follow me" (vs. 21), the cost factor was too high. At Jesus' words "his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property." (vs. 22) He loved his riches more than his Creator.
As Peter reflected on the event that he had just witnessed he made a remarkable claim, "Behold we have left everything and followed You." (vs. 28) What's astounding to me is Jesus' reply, because He says, "I tell you the truth ...one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel ..." (vs. 29). Isn't Jesus affirming the very thing that Peter confessed? Actually Jesus' words are the distinct reality of what it means to follow Him. All must be laid at the altar of His feet, even family if necessary (Matthew 10:37).
There is a "cross" that must be born for those who claim Jesus as Lord and King of their lives (Matthew 10:38). The cross is equal to suffering "for His sake" and though it comes in various forms, perhaps there is no greater pain to endure than at the hands of one's family. Even if it upsets your family that you're not following the religion of your ancestors, even if they do not understand your new time priorities, you must follow Him--even if means they'll ostracize you (Matthew 10:37). Doesn't it seem bizarre that a man's family could become his enemy because of following Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:36)? Not when you consider the nature of Jesus' calling. That calling is founded upon the very nature of Christ Himself who was not just a man but God who became flesh (John 1:1,14). Jesus is the very essence of light and holiness, and it is in opposition to His light and holiness where the conflict resides. His holiness exposes all the profane and ungodly, and His illumination uncovers the darkness of a rebellious world. When you accept the obedient call of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14), becoming a partaker of the divine nature through faith (2 Peter 1:4), you will find yourself in conflict with the world. Jesus has well said, "If they hated me they will also hate you."
A disciple may find himself at odds with his family or friends over something as simple as the conditional nature of salvation (Hebrew 5:8-9). All their lives they may have heard and believed grace and faith alone save. To remain silent will remove the "cross" from you but Jesus said, "whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me CANNOT be my disciple." (Luke 14:27) Jesus not only came to die for our sins but to replace false religion with that which is true (Mark 7:2-13). "...But, mom and dad, Jesus said to believe in Him is to obey Him (John 3:36). It is not grace alone that saves, but grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
It's not faith alone that produces salvation (James 2:24), but obedience from the heart to that form of doctrine (Romans 6:17). It is not earned but is given to those who humbly submit to the terms of pardon; and if one loses that saving faith, he falls from the grace and fellowship of his loving Savior." (Galatians 5:4) Or the conflict may be over the essential nature of water baptism. Your family may reduce baptism to sprinkling instead of a burial (Romans 6:3-4) or believe it is to be administered to unbelieving infants rather than believing men and women (Acts 8:12). They may claim it is only a symbol and does not save, whereas the scriptures teach that it does save (1 Peter 3:21; Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26). Such teaching may bring the wrath of those whom you have counted dear, but shall you deny the truth or lock it in the closet of your mind for fear of losing a loved one? Will that "one thing" be what keeps you from heaven?
Oh yes, there is the giving up "all" of self and family and a cross that must be born by those who are willing to follow Him. Yet, the One who stated the terms of discipleship also proclaimed the rewards of being followers. Notice what Jesus promised in Mark 10:30, none of these ones "will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields -- and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life." He says He'll more than replace what we lose! This is not some idle boast --the King of kings and Lord of lords said it! This is the One who told the winds to hush and they became still. He is the One who is riding on the white charger ruling the nations for all power and authority has been given to Him on heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). No one who forsakes all for Jesus walks alone in this life or in the life to come.
Is it worth it? Is it worth it to be in fellowship with a loving Savior who was
willing to die for us so that we might live? Is it worth being in the light of
His kingdom and to experience a relationship with the finest people on the face
of the earth? It is my friend, it is worth it! There is pain ("persecutions")
but more importantly there is gain. Remember the promises, not just a new
spiritual family but in the end "eternal life."
By Paul Ayres
From Expository Files 2.2; February, 1995