by Josh Puuri
Our Christian sisters, Abby and Sam, depart this Friday to a country the size of Iowa that is home to 150+ million people. It is estimated that 90% of the people there are unreached concerning the gospel and only 0.3% of the population are adherents to the Christian faith. They will be serving local and tribal populations as a nutritionist and nurse at a local hospital, but their primary aim is to support the work of planting churches. They leave behind their homes, ease of life in a first-world country, warmth of fellowship with family and friends, familiarity of speaking their native tongue, and countless other comforts their current life affords them. No one would deny the level of sacrifice being demonstrated here, but Mark 10 offers an encouraging reminder to Abby, Sam, and all believers, that sacrifice for Christ comes with a great promise.
In Mark 10:17-23, Jesus had just reminded His disciples in consecutive teachings that following Him requires great sacrifice as we must rely less on this world and learn to put our trust in Him: “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Likely anxious in wondering if Jesus was directly addressing their level of commitment, Peter replied to Jesus, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”
Noticing that Peter’s reply focused solely on their depth of sacrifice, Jesus graciously taught His disciples that anyone who has forsaken their past life for the sake of Christ will be even greater recipients of his blessing both here in this life and in the eternal one to come. He taught them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Theologian J.C. Ryle says of this passage, “There are few wider promises than this in the Word of God. There is none certainly in the New Testament which holds out such encouragement for the life that now is. Let every one that is fearful and faint-hearted in Christ’s service look at this promise. Let all who are enduring hardness and tribulation for Christ’s sake, study this promise well, and drink out of it comfort.”
What might the rich blessing of this life look like? Here are some of the ways that come to mind:
In a season of weakness? He is your strength and shield. Trust in him.
In a moment of loneliness? He offers you communion with saints worldwide.
Unsure of decisions or outcomes? His faithfulness endures to all generations.
And while this life still presents persecution, recall Jesus’ final promise to the disciples: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Sam and Abby, we are thankful for your obedience to the call that the Lord has placed on your lives. He is your great reward in this life and eternity to come. Your church family at URC supports you and is praying for you.
URC, may their example spur us on to live sacrificially here as we seek to be obedient in advancing the great commission over there.