Mark 10:31 – But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.
Let’s face some facts here, following Jesus in America or the Western world is easy. Yes, that tide is turning, and people are increasingly less tolerant of biblical morals and Christian exclusivism. But our government is not systematically seeking out believers and killing us as is happening in other countries. Here in Mark, Jesus is telling His disciples that sacrifice is part of the Christian life. Leaving one’s job, family members, and property is not easy, but it may be necessary. Therefore, these kinds of decisions should not be made lightly due to the radical results that will be incurred. Then the Son of God reminds us in verse 31 that those sacrifices will not go unnoticed by God. Of course, we don’t do it to be rewarded. As the disciples said in John six, we follow Christ because He has the words of eternal life, not for personal gain. So here is the challenge, what have you given up for the sake of the Gospel? I am not talking about getting up at a reasonable time on Sunday morning to go to an air-conditioned church with free coffee. No, not that. Oh, and here are a few other things that are not sacrifices: wearing a gold crucifix necklace, placing a fish bumper sticker on your car, getting a cross tattooed on your shoulder, wearing a t-shirt that has the word Jesus somewhere on it, etc. The disciples left family-run businesses as well as friends and relatives who likely thought they were crazy to follow a homeless Rabbi. Christ-followers in Burma and China meet in secret, share a singular Bible, and whisper their worship songs to avoid being dragged into the street where they will be shot. Churches in Turkey and Iran are forced to pay exorbitant “taxes” and fees to keep their buildings from being confiscated by the government and destroyed. Yes, our “sacrifices” are different, but we are still called to be salt and light in this world. You can help change a stranger’s flat tire on the side of a highway. You can pay someone’s delinquent bills. You can give a friend a ride to the airport or to their job. You can sit with a neighbor when they lose a loved one. Serve. Love. Give. But, whatever you do, be sure to point all the praise and glory to God. We do not do good things because we are good people. We do good things because Jesus Christ died for our sins, and the Holy Spirit is changing our hearts.