Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday, at the end of Matthew 19: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
Is Jesus always trying to separate us from our friends and family? Is that really what He wants? I don’t think you can make a rule out of this. However, we are always to choose Jesus first. Whatever their proximity, Jesus’ brother and sister and mother are those who choose to do God’s will (Matthew 12:50). Jesus is, however, warning us of the division His presence, and our allegiance, may cause. We may indeed be forced to choose a side. But Jesus promises that no matter whatever, and whoever, we leave behind for His sake, we “will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
But let’s cut this a couple other ways than how we might be used to thinking about it:
- Is the abundant life Jesus promises us purely just a pleasant existence among a bunch of “Christian friends”? To be honest, I think that’s the way most American Christians live it out. We may not have to leave our church behind, but we’ll almost certainly need to step outside of the comfort of it, in order to follow Jesus.
- Perhaps the bigger yet lesser acknowledged fact is: We are never alone in our relationships. Jesus is always there, in our midst, whether we acknowledge Him or not. To believe anything different is to cultivate the kind of relationship Jesus says we must lay down. And yet, the friendships where we know Jesus is ever-present, and put Him first, are the richest friendships we have. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know it’s true.
The Bible repeatedly tells us that this world is only temporary, that everything in it will pass. That doesn’t just go for the present world system and its evils, but even the people and things we love. This is a tough truth to accept. We’re being prepared for an eternity with Jesus. We must learn to love Him first. Will we be reunited with the people we love in heaven? There are strong biblical arguments in both directions. But Jesus makes it clear that our ultimate priority must be Him.