Archive for the 'Building Blocks' Category

The Promise of Discipleship

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Today’s scripture: Mark 10:28-31 (ESV-text and audio) (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

Today’s passage comes right after the story of the rich young ruler, which we read a few days ago. There, a rich young man came to Jesus to ask what he needed to do to gain eternal life. The young man indicates that he has tried to keep all the commandments, but still he senses something critical is missing.

Like a laser beam, Jesus goes to the source of the young man’s challenge: he loves his money more than he loves God. To free him from this curse, Jesus invites the young man to give away all his wealth and begin traveling with Jesus. The text says, “When [the young man] heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving. . . .” Mark 10:22.

Nobody ever said following Jesus would be easy. Jesus expects us to be willing to give up anything that stands between us and what God is calling us to be and do. You might call this “radical renunciation.” It’s a scary idea.

After the young man goes away grieving, Simon Peter says to Jesus, “Hey, we have done exactly what you told that young man to do. We’ve made a radical commitment to serving God regardless of the cost. So what will we get?” (This is my paraphrase of verse 28.)

In response Jesus says, “Anyone who makes serving God highest priority – letting nothing stand in the way – will end up experiencing incomparable abundance. Everything will be yours.” (My paraphrase of verses 29-30.)

Therein lies life’s greatest irony. . . .

By giving up everything, we gain everything. Radical renunciation leads to abundance.

Years ago when I was in college, a good friend of mine, Mary, had a friend, Sue, who was a mess. Sue seemed off track spiritually; she also had a loud, contrary, sarcastic personality. At my college, each door room held four students and you were allowed to request up to one roommate. Your other two roommates were assigned randomly.

By the way, I’ve changed the names in this story to protect confidentiality.

As Mary’s Junior year drew to a close, she felt convicted to ask Sue to room with her. “But God,” she prayed, “I don’t know if I can stand a full year of Sue and her mouthiness. Please God, anyone but Sue!” But the more she prayed, the more she became convinced that this was a sacrifice she was called to make. She felt like Sue needed a good friend who would love her in spite of her annoying characteristics — and care enough to encourage and challenge her.

So, by faith, Mary took the plunge. As expected, Sue was hugely difficult and annoying. And, in retrospect, it’s unclear whether Mary’s friendship ended up making any difference for Sue.

But that same year, Mary was assigned another roommate – Patty, one of those randomly assigned roommates — who turned out to be one of the most delightful, loving people Mary had ever met. Patty and Mary forged an incredible friendship that has endured through the years. Mary is convinced that Patty was God’s way of rewarding her faithfulness in reaching out to Sue.

So let’s do the math: In exchange for one year of hardship duty reaching out to Sue, God gave Mary a friend for a lifetime. This is the “hundredfold” return Jesus refers to in verse 30.

Thought for the day: You can’t out-give God. So don’t hold back. Dare to do whatever God calls you to, knowing that down that path lies abundance beyond your wildest dreams — and beyond that, eternal life.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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