Air miles, frequent flyer points, Starbucks rewards, cash rebates, etc; we’ve got a multitude of incentives to reward loyalty. Companies compete to maintain us as customers and trip over each other with innovative offers. Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media sell advertising knowing our addiction to technology will expose us to their latest wares.
What kind of rewards does God offer? What ‘incentives’ did Christ promise to those who would follow Him? In Mark 10:28-31 we find an interesting answer to this question.
Having just seen the rich young man leave downcast because of the deal-breaker money was to him, the discipleship conversation of the day focused on riches and kingdom entrance requirements. The impossibility or difficulty which riches may create amazed the disciples. Was salvation out of reach for the rich? The poor? Anyone?
Lest their commitment to Jesus be seen as profitless, Peter assures their Master, “We have left everything to follow you!” Fishing nets, tax collector’s booths, and other incentives were all behind them. You know the song – “The world behind us, the cross before us, no turning back, no turning back?” We’ve been singing this, Lord and living it.
I confess I, like Peter, overestimate my devotion. Haven’t I sacrificed? Haven’t I gone into ministry vocations with a lesser pay scale than my colleagues because I’m ‘so devoted?’ ‘Keith, don’t kid yourself! You’re not as devoted as you think. There are many disciples following me in all kinds of profession,’ the Lord reminds me. Seriously, just this week, I’ve met some serious Christ followers who are bi-vocational. They are letting the light shine and evidence the transforming grace of God in a multitude of ways.
How did Jesus respond to Peter’s confident assurance of devotion? By spelling out in a lengthy sentence God’s rewards and then in a second sentence issuing a warning. Please read it carefully –
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one (including you Peter) 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–and with them, persecutions (ouch!) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
So what had the disciples gained by following Jesus? What have those of us who claim to follow Him in 2016 gained? A multitude of new blessings now and eternal life in the age to come. Death is simply a transfer point for those who know Jesus Christ. The best is yet to come!
I think it’s high time I reassess my devotion by repenting of such arrogance and gratefully accept what God determines to provide. The last time I checked ingratitude is a serious sin!
Now for This Day in Christian History
On June 4, 1948
In Manila the first missionary radio station (FEBC) built in the Philippines by the Far East Broadcasting Company goes on the air. Today (the book was published in 2011) broadcasts to every country in Asica, in more than 150 languages.
Praise God for a constructive use of technology!