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The Perplexing ROI for the Follower of Jesus

November 29, 2016 • Life for Leaders

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

Mark 10:29-30

 

Close up of instruments used in investments.In Mark 10:25, Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. This distressed his disciples, who wondered who could be saved. When Jesus said that everything is possible with God, Peter wanted to make sure his place in the kingdom was secure. So he said, “We have left everything to follow you!” (10:28). Peter was probably hoping for a word of reassurance, something like, “Don’t worry, Peter, you’re in. You’ve earned your spot by your sacrifice.” But what he heard from Jesus must have been both comforting and perplexing.

The comforting part was hearing that one who gives up much to follow Jesus will receive “eternal life” in the age to come (10:30). Ultimately, the sacrifice involved in following Jesus will pay off generously. We will experience an impressive ROI (return on investment) as his disciples.

The perplexing part of what Jesus said included his predication that those who follow him would receive great blessings “along with persecutions” (10:30). This was realistic, but certainly not good news for those who, like Peter, had already endured many hardships to follow Jesus.

Yet even some of the good news in Jesus’s response to Peter must have been bewildering. He said that “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields” (10:29-30a). How does this happen? Where are the houses and the relatives “in this present age”? What Jesus said makes little sense if we think of our possessions and people individualistically. But Jesus was thinking differently. He was envisioning the community of his followers sharing all of life together, including their families and their possessions. One who follows Jesus becomes a member of his community, a community of generous sharing.

At least that’s what Jesus intended for his followers. We don’t always fulfill this vision, however, when our natural selfishness limits our willingness to share. But, many times, the church does embody the generosity promised by Jesus. For example, the nicest homes I have ever stayed in have belonged to brothers and sisters in Christ. And I am eternally grateful to the adults who helped to raise my children by teaching them in Sunday School, counseling them at camp, and embodying the Gospel in the way they lived. One of the richest blessings of the Christian life is sharing together with the family of God.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

How have you been blessed through your participation in the community of Jesus?

How are you sharing what you have with your sisters and brothers in Christ?

Is there something more you might be sharing, even today?

PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that following you is not a solitary journey, but a shared adventure. Thank you for my adoption into your family, and for the brothers and sisters you have given me. Thank you for all the ways I benefit from being part of your family.

Help me, dear Lord, to learn to see my life, my family, even my stuff in the light of your kingdom. May I learn to share what is “mine,” knowing that truly it is “yours” and therefore “ours.” Help me to open my heart, my arms, and in home to others.

Help your church to be the community you have called us to be, sharing all that we are and all that we have with each other. May our genuine fellowship be a sign to the world that the Gospel is true. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: The Grace of God (Mark 10:23-31)

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