Christians will experience a feeling of loss the deeper they pursue Jesus. In inviting us to follow him, Jesus asks us to leave behind that with which we are familiar and close. Sometimes we are asked to leave people and places behind geographically. My wife and I were asked to leave our family and friends in Ohio to live and work in Fort McMurray. Other times our steps towards God can distance us from others emotionally and spiritually. Has your obedience to God ever resulted in a loved one feeling confused, hurt, or rejected? Have you abandoned an identity you once held, something that was everything to you, but which now no longer controls your life? Do others treat you with contempt or see you as judgmental or hypocritical? There is a cost to following Jesus.
In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” The Christian life is not a life void of pain and suffering. There is a cost to following Jesus. But there is a greater reward.
Later on in Matthew 19:29-30 Jesus says, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.” All the leaving I have ever done in my life has eventually been followed by immense receiving. New people and new places that I had never known are now consistent sources of joy, thankfulness, and encouragement in my faith. For those who love God, he is in the process of giving to us a hundred times more than we have ever lost or sacrificed. We receive blessings beyond imagination from a Father who loves his children. Don’t be afraid of leaving, you will be receiving.
Is there something you need to give up in order to follow Jesus? Trust God when he says that you will receive a hundredfold and eternal life. If you have already left things behind, how has God blessed you with new things? Take a moment to thank him for his faithfulness. And finally, know that it is ok to weep over the losses of life. Never stop asking God to do something miraculous in the lives of those you love who do not know God. Never stop pursuing others in love. We love because he first loved us.