Devotional of the week: Gifts now; gifts later (7 in Pilgrim series)

James Fraser and some of the people he introduced to Christ.

James Fraser and some of the people he introduced to Christ.

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 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:28–30)

Our text comes just after the rich man asks Jesus how to enter the kingdom. Jesus’ words to him are stark: sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow him. The disciples are amazed. Then Jesus gives the assurance above – those who renounce family members and livelihoods and who endure ill-treatment will receive a hundredfold of blessings.

This passage makes me think of missionaries of old, who would leave their home for a far-flung country never to return, or to come back decades later to a few remaining relatives whom they might not recognize. James Fraser (1886–1938) was such a pilgrim. He gave up what would have been a budding career as an engineer – or a concert pianist – to live among the remote tribal people in China. What he relinquished was great, but what he gained was everlasting. For through his dependence on God as expressed through a disciplined program of prayer (shared with his prayer partners at home), he witnessed many Lisu Chinese people come to faith.

God might not be asking us to be mission partners in a remote village. But what he seeks in us, as with the young rich man, is a heart willing to eschew the things that may have become an idol to us – even our family members or our homes or our work. Can we say yes to Jesus as he asks us to follow him, trusting that we will receive a hundred times as much of what we say no to?

For reflection: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Ephesians 3:20–21).

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