Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “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 . . . “
What have we left? Why did we do it?
We see our friends living the high life, going on extravagant vacations, buying fancy cars and houses. We see them on the weekend, packing every minute with recreation, doing elaborate home fix up projects. We see them taking high powered prestigious jobs. We see their kids doing activities that cost as much monthly as a mortgage payment.
And we look at our lives, austere by comparison, and ask, “Why did we give up all that?”
Not to say that we don’t have some of those things at times. But we’ve given up the pursuit of all that as a lifestyle.
And as Jesus says the reason is for HIM, and for the good news.
Are we still doing it for Jesus?
Here’s DeWayne, who just got baptized.
When people shared about DeWayne, they talked about how he had fallen in love with Jesus. That is what made him change. And you could see the change. You could see him more engaged, more joyful.
Do we remember every day to be motivated by our love for Jesus?
Because I can just go through the motions and forget how amazing Jesus is, how he has the answers, how I love the way he lived, how I am inspired by his heart of mercy and righteousness.
You know, when I shared the first part of this blog with Ken, he laughed, because it doesn’t really sound like we give that much up. We still have so much. But the early apostles really DID give everything up. They left their homes, their families, their livelihoods.
Why? When Jesus asked them, Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69
For the apostles, Jesus was what they’d been looking for all their lives. It was worth EVERYTHING to them just to be able to be around him, watch him and learn from him.
And that should be true for me as well, but, strange as it may seem, I lose track of it in the midst of Bible study, church attendance and Christian deeds.
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40
I lose that heart pounding excitement, that exhilaration of following someone GOOD and TRUE and LOVING.
I need to remember this:
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. Phil 3:11
Knowing Christ eclipses all else. How is it I get so caught up in Christian pursuits that I forget that he has to be at the center of each one of them? That he gives the vibrancy to our walk?
I’ve been working on a thankful list for months. So far I’ve thought of 900 GREAT things God has given me!
But I don’t think Jesus is on this written list. Sure, I thank God for Jesus in prayer. But why not WRITE down my thanks for Him as I count my blessings?
So that’s what I’m doing today. Thank you, Jesus, for showing me how to love and how to live. Thank you for caring for the lowliest individual. Thank you for being righteous. Thank you for being with me always. Thank you for choosing me.
Do you know what happens when I do this? Jesus gets bigger.
And it occurs to me that if our minds are consumed with worry, stress, resentment, etc, maybe it’s because we haven’t remembered enough how amazing our Lord Christ is, how he cares, how nothing is impossible for him, and so on.
There’s this great scene at the end of the musical “Upside Down,” where Peter is desolate because the authorities have threatened to kill his wife, Abby, if he doesn’t denounce his faith. But Abby sings an epic song, “Remember the Lord,” saying that it’s her faith too, she’s ready to die for Christ. She reminds Peter over and over how awesome Jesus is. And finally, Peter remembers, and joins her in triumphant song.
In essence, Abby is saying, “I’m willing to DIE, because I REMEMBER Jesus.
So back to the question, “Why do we do it?”
Because we remember Jesus. We remember who he is. We remember what he’s done for us.
We remember him and he is magnified and everything else is minimized.
And then it is worth it, whatever we’re going through, whatever we give up.
To whom should we go? We can only go to Jesus. He has the words of eternal life. He is manna to our souls.