We are often tempted to wonder was it worth it? Was it worth it to give up family vacations, newer cars, and our kids’ sports’ careers for the faith? We see our neighbor drive up in her new Lexus, we hear a dad at school talk about his family’s latest vacation and we wonder: Does God notice? The self-centered families seem to be doing just fine while we scrape and pinch to get our kids new shoes. They seemingly have everything that we have given up. What gives?
In Mark 10:28, Peter brings up this very point with Jesus. He points out that he and the disciples have left everything. They have made the sacrifice that the rich young ruler would not make. They have left all for Jesus. They are following him. And now Peter like us wants to know: Does God care?
Thankfully, the answer is an amazing and full yes. Jesus says,
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, who 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. But the many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Jesus understand that following him carries real cost. People will hate us. We will lose friends because we refuse to get drunk, engage in sexual immorality, and look the other way while our brother defrauds an insurance company. Standing on truth and calling sin evil and calling people to embrace Christ will cost us everything we cling to in this life. The gospel cost John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrims Progress, years in jail. It cost Willaim Wilberforce, who outlawed slavery in England his reputation, health, and wealth. It cost the Atlanta Fire Chief his job. The gospel has real cost. But it also has real benefits. When we embrace Christ we embrace the people of God.
In Soviet Russia, A pastor was thrown into prison for preaching the gospel. He left behind a wife and two children who were promptly sent to the harsh winter land of Siberia. Having little food and no friends, they cried out to God for help.
A little over 18 miles away, deacon was being divinely awoken from his sleep. He felt God telling him to take food in his church’s recently restocked pantry to first house he saw in the next town over. The deacon argued with God, running over all the dangers, The ranged from the bitter cold to wolves. But still, he felt the Holy Spirit telling him to go. He heard, “You don’t have to come back. You just have to go.” So on faith, he ventured forth. When he got to the cabin, he knocked loudly on the door. He greeted the surprised pastor’s wife and told her, “Our church collected this food for you. Be fed. When this runs out, I’ll bring more.” (The Insanity of God).
This is the beauty of the gospel. God is huge. Following him cost us everything. But God has not forgotten us. He sent his son to die for us. Jesus is the perfect and unbreakable promise from God. He will care for all of our needs not because we are great. He cares for our needs because he is great. He does not do things in accordace with our timing or approved methods. He does things better. He gives us new families and new homes bond together by his love. The family in Russia lost their father and gained all kinds of brothers and sisters in Christ. Following Christ is hard. We lose much in this world but we gain the church. We gain the people of God. That is a great exchange.
But even more than that, we gain eternal life. Sorrow ends. We will be with Christ in heaven. Life may seem hard. It may seem that we are losing. But do not lose heart, God saves. He does the impossible. He will care for us and bring us to heaven.
Consequently, many of the first people that we would place in the kingdom of God will not be there. And many of the drug addicts, wife beaters, porn addicts, greedy swindlers will be there because they have repented and trusted Jesus. They will be there because God saves. They will be there because they have found that true life comes from following Christ.
When we are tempted to despair, when we are tempted to think that we have a sacrificed too much, we must remember that God is good. God has and is and will continue to care for us. Everything we give up will be replaced with something better – the family of God and eternity with God. Our sacrifices our worth it. When we embrace Christ we get more than benefits, blessings, and joy than we could ever imagine. We get the people of God and God himself!
So is the sacrifice worth it?