19 Dec Actually, all we have is Jesus.
The Lord said, “And everyone who has left all these for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
- Houses, fields – Materials. Today, majority of people cannot pass the temptation of materials. Especially in comfortable city living, we are all influenced by materialistic things. When we think of materials, we think of studying well, having a good career foundation, security for tomorrow, planning for the unforeseen, etc. Actually, we spend a lot of time and focus on materialistic things. Presently, the entire world is affected by economical things. Nations and people are all concerned about trade wars. Why? Because of materials. But the Bible tells us that all these will pass away.
- Brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children – Relationship. People are all born in relationships, and know that relationship is far more valuable than materials. The greatest worry of we humans comes from relationships. Indeed, the more we love a person, the more we worry for them. When those whom we love more disappoint us, we are more hurt. After the fall of mankind, they can no longer see the source (God) who gives all relationships, and they treat all their relationships as their idols. As a result, they cannot enjoy relationships, but are bound by relationships. Therefore, the Bible tells us that all interpersonal relationships first come from people’s relationship with God.
But in the Lord, there is a hundredfold, and eternal life
“Hundredfold” does not refer to quantity. Even if so, that is the shallowest understanding. Think about it, how can we have one hundred more parents, brothers, wives, children? But here, the Lord is promising another kind of transformational relationship. Natural relationships cannot surpass spiritual relationships. It is different to gain more materials for oneself and to invest materials for eternity. This is not something one can get by having more on earth. Because this is different in essence. For example: Some marital relationships keep demanding from each other, blaming each other, and worrying over things on earth. Some already understood from the truth that human nature is imperfect, thus they daily rely on the Lord to complement and help each other. Then, all these weaknesses and inadequacies are temporary. There is an ultimate purpose to human sufferings on earth, which is to bring humans into eternity. Because no matter how much materials one has on earth, or how good relationships are, all these will come to an end. Life, death and separation is a fact of life, and it is something which everyone has to face. Thus, God promises eternal life in His Son.
When we are brought to “we only have Jesus”, we will get to know this blessing of hundredfold and eternal life
Many people do not realize what their lives truly need. Only when we lose earthly materials and relationships, then we realize how transient are the things we possess in this life. Then we may ask ourselves, “Have I received “a hundred times”? Do I truly know “eternal life”?” Indeed, many people in the church only enter the church to lead a kind of religiously ritualistic living, or simply to meet up with people. Or they may be like this young man mentioned in <Mt 19:16-22>, once being challenged to leave everything to follow the Lord, then he went away sad. His sadness is not because he lacked materials or relationships. On the contrary, he had more than anyone else, but because he did not have a master of his soul, he cannot be satisfied by everything he had, but they instead brought him more burdens.
It is all about leaving all these “for the sake of the Lord’s name”
See the value of Jesus’ name
Many people misunderstand that only noble and generous believers can leave everything for the Lord. Some people also misunderstand that as long as we bravely give everything up for the Lord, then we can get hundredfold blessings on earth, have more materials, more blissful families, and a more successful and stable life. Actually, it is the opposite! These are misunderstandings and distortions of the grace in Christ. The grace in Christ is endless, whether if it relates to materials or relationships. But the greatest grace in Christ is to point us to our sins and powerlessness, and point us to the emptiness of our lives. Indeed, all those who left God are under the authority of sin when they came to this world, from their first breath on earth, they are moving toward death. It seems as if they acquire certain things on earth, but the truth is, they are gradually losing everything they have. They carry the weariness and burdens of this earth as they study, work, earn a living, then gradually age, lose their health, then finally they have to bid goodbye to all the materials they accumulated and the relationships they cherished. Thus, the grace of Christ is to point us to this truth, so that we are conscious of sin and can repent, acknowledge Christ as Lord, and turn to the eternal God. Truthfully speaking, it is not us leaving anything for Christ, but we saw the value of Christ’s name, thus we leave everything to follow the Lord.
It is not about gaining anything for the sake of the Lord’s name, but leaving for the Lord’s sake
Today, perhaps the greatest misunderstanding toward Christianity is that we have to gain or do certain things for the name of the Lord. But the Lord told us to leave everything for His name. To leave is not about discarding carelessly, but it is about having another attitude and meaning to possess everything. To leave is not about us offering one time to the Lord generously, but it is about the transformation of our beliefs and thinking, turning from the earth to the heaven, from living to gratify the flesh to living by the Spirit. Actually all these (materials, relationships) are all the Lord’s, and are to be used for the Lord. But we often keep them as our own possessions. Thus, for example: The motive and expectations of us raising children must change. We must pray for them to be born-again and to love the Lord, instead of first acquiring earthly success. Our aspiration for marriage is not that our other half can become the ideal partner in our hearts, but that he becomes the person whom I can help and complement. We pray for our health, not for longevity, but to have sufficient strength to serve the Lord.
But who then can be saved? Who can leave those things?
Actually, no one can leave what he has
When the apostles saw someone who had kept the laws since young, yet could not enter the kingdom of God, they were greatly astonished. “Can’t such pious and zealous person enter the kingdom of heaven?” Indeed, if a person can leave everything to follow the Lord based on his own generosity and piety, then his salvation is what he has earned on his own. But no one descendant of Adam is able to do this. The descendants of Adam have all eaten the fruit of good and evil, they all choose themselves and what they wanted, instead of choosing the Lord. Even though many people desire to receive God’s blessings, eventually the choice of their hearts is still for themselves. Even though many servants of God seemed to have chosen to serve the Lord, when it concerns threats to their own interests, reputation and future, the truth proves that they still choose what is beneficial to themselves. In facing their own ideals and the truth principles, many believers still choose to compromise. Indeed, we all know our hearts are so inclined toward the flesh, and easily choose the world.
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible
The intervention of the Lord’s immense grace tells us that although it is impossible with man, God made the impossible possible. The most wonderful part about the power of this grace is that it can soften the hearts of those who completely love the world and are enemies of God, such that they can surrender to God. This is purely the work of the Holy Spirit, and how can this work come upon us? That is when the gospel of Christ and pure truth are being preached, then people will be humbled down. When the gospel of heaven is being spread, the Holy Spirit will awaken men, such that they will view lightly the light and momentary things on earth, and turn to the King in heaven and His determined will. However, if the gospel we preach is calling people to come before God to fulfil their wishes, then people’s hearts will be hardened, and they will hold tightly to what their hearts want. Indeed, we must be brought to we “only have Jesus”. When we see that we only have Jesus, then we can be liberated from all fears, greed, lack, guilt, etc.
But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Who are the first? Here, it refers to the self-righteous and self-reliant Pharisees, scribes, and Jews who were seemingly “first”. They rejected the Lord’s grace, thus drifting further from God, and became the last instead. The last were the Lord’s disciples and the helpless and harassed people who followed the Lord, these people became the first instead. However, this principle of the first and the last is a mystery. In the course of serving, we often realise that we involuntarily get into such battle. Because in <Mt 20:1-16>, the Lord told a parable to illustrate the principle of the first and the last. Here, it talks about those who were hired to work in the vineyard, these are like those being saved to enter the heavenly Kingdom to serve. Some were hired to work from morning 6.00 am, referring to those who have been following and serving the Lord from very early part of their lives. However, at evening 6.00 pm, there were also those who were hired last to work. But they all received the same one denarius as their wage, illustrating that they all received the same grace and blessing from the Lord. However, those who were hired first had grumbles in their hearts. Here, it wants to bring out that the grace of redemption is the same, and those who are saved are all brought into the Kingdom of heaven to serve. We all received the same Savior, Christ the Lord, and get to enter the same Kingdom of heaven. Yet, in all these, the attitudes of our hearts may be different. Those who were hired first (such as the apostles) should be full of gratitude, because they could serve the Lord for such a long time (3.5 years), and got to see the glory of the Lord. The more they served, they should be more joyful, feel sweeter, and feel more strengthened, but they might be stumbled by what those who entered later on received. Thus, among them, they were always affected by a kind of vanity, always comparing who is greater. Actually, the greatest is the one who serves others cheerfully, and the one who receives satisfying joy while serving. When our church continues to grow, no matter whether we are the first or the last, we must continue to advance. When we face all kinds of difficulties in the midst of serving, let us continue to move ahead, receiving the prize for which Christ has called us. Because ultimately, we only have Jesus, and the reward we receive is to see His glory and receive His heart.