"Peter tried to regain some initiative: 'We left everything we owned and followed you, didn't we?'
"'Yes,' said Jesus, 'and you won't regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children -- whatever -- will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life.'" Luke 18:28-30 (The Message).
Sometimes we might be tempted to think that Jesus was so heavenly-minded that He didn't care about people's ordinary, everyday needs and wants. But Peter's comment brought out the evidence of His sane and balanced thinking. Of course He cares! He doesn't just treat people as 'souls'!
We are whole people with human lives that have needs as well as souls and spirits that must be nurtured. As long as we are resident on this present earth in our present human bodies, He has pledged to provide for and take care of us if we trust Him.
However, Jesus did not specify the details of His provision for us. He did not for one moment guarantee that He would literally replace many times over what we sacrifice in order to follow Him. What would be the purpose of owning houses and lands if only to boost our assets?
But, once again, let's put this promise into the perspective of His 'kingdom' thinking. Jesus was always pragmatic. What would be the value of hoarding wealth? From God's point of view, anything that is not circulated, stagnates and loses its usefulness. He is willing to put anything into a believer's hands that He knows will not be wasted on self or pulled out of circulation by hoarding.
But Jesus is also indescribably generous. He releases to us in superabundance whatever we need for ourselves and for whoever we can bless. He removes the boundaries of what is 'mine', family, possessions, property, money and resources, and opens up the resources of His kingdom in ways we could never dream possible.
What do I mean by that? When God calls us into His kingdom, we enter a realm where blood ties and personal assets no longer restrict us. Remember what Jesus said? 'He who does the will of God is my mother and brother and sister.' We become members of God's forever family, bound by a blood tie much stronger than the ties of human family, the sacrificial blood of our 'elder brother', Jesus.
We also step into the realm of all the shared resources of the Father. "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it." Psalm 24:1 (NIV). To claim 'mine' is to take ownership illegitimately of what is not ours. We are children in a family whose Father owns everything and who is loving, caring and generous beyond our understanding.
For Jesus, sacrifice is not a loss but an exchange, and, as always, we are never diminished by what we choose to sacrifice. If we let go of the little we claim as ours, we gain the limitless 'much' that God will pour into our lives as long as we use it for the 'family' and not hoard it for ourselves. Jesus put it like this: "'But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.'" Matthew 6:33 (NIV).
People who do not trust God as their Father, run after 'things', because 'things' are the only thing that represents security for them. When 'things' fail, they have nothing left because they have never made the exchange of 'things' for confidence in a Father who has never yet failed those who trust Him.
We may think that this is a risky exchange. It is until we try it, and then we find that it is the safest investment we can ever make because it is built on the word of one who risks His own reputation if He fails to honour His promise. So, in the end, it's not as much about us as it is about Him. If He reneges on His promise, He goes down with us, and that's the bottom line. But...
"If we are faithless,
He will remain faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV).
'And,' said Jesus, 'there's a bonus to all this 'sacrifice' thing. You don't only get all the perks of the kingdom in this life, but you are actually already a part of this kingdom of which there is no end. So, when you step over, all you lose are the restrictions and limitations of your sinful human life and you become a partaker of the life of God in its fullest possible sense.'
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