This is a kind of less is more approach: those who give things up for God will get more in the end than they ever gave up. The Chief Apostle explained the whys and wherefores in a divine service.
“I must say it’s a special joy for me to gather together with you in this special circle of the servants of our beloved Lord.” This was how Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider welcomed the ministers to the divine service for ministers in Jakarta in Indonesia on 6 May.
A rich young man who lived a pious life came to Jesus and wanted to know from Him what his chances were of entering the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus asked him to give up his possessions, the young man went away sad. Jesus said: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18: 24). This remark really troubled the disciples. Would they make it? Jesus assured them: “I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” These words from Luke 18: 29 and 30 served as the basis for the divine service.
What all we must renounce
“Don’t worry,” the Chief Apostle began and referred to the comforting words of Jesus Christ: “Those who have left something for Me and the kingdom of God will receive many times more and have eternal life.” This is still true today, he said. However, anyone who wants to follow Jesus and enter the kingdom of God must renounce a number of things, he continued. He then went on to list and explain these things.
- Give up on clinging to material wealth: “You need money, and you can have money,” the Chief Apostle clarified. But wealth should not become more important to you than the love for God and the love for our neighbour, he said. In order to obtain money, people sometimes go so far as to harm their neighbour. “It is better to do without earthly wealth than to violate the law of Jesus Christ and not to love God and your neighbour.”
- Renouncing comfort: The house Jesus mentions in the Bible text is a picture of convenience and comfort. Jesus Himself loved to come to the home of Mary and Martha. But, the Chief Apostle said, “If you follow Jesus, if you want to have eternal life you cannot be comfortable.”
- Quit following the mainstream if it is against God: “The parents and brothers mentioned in our Bible text are an image of the society in which we live,” the Chief Apostle explained. We can be part of this society, but “belonging to Jesus Christ is more important to us than the people and traditions we belong to”. Because sometimes the actions of society do not correspond to the will of God. “Even if 300 million people do it, I won’t do it because I belong to Christ.”
- Renouncing other gods: just because the Bible text says that one should leave one’s wife and children does not mean that followers of Christ may not be married. “And it’s not an excuse for the brothers not to care for their wives and children,” the Chief Apostle emphasised. “It was just a reminder of the Law of Moses. For Moses had already told the people of Israel, ‘If your wife or your child, who are like your own soul, tell you to serve another god, do not listen to them.’”
- Giving up character traits that get in the way: “And to summarise Jesus said that to follow Him you must deny yourself,” the Chief Apostle said. “In other words, overcome all aspects of your personality that do not agree with Jesus Christ. You must be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ and give up everything that does not correspond to that image.”
Ministers especially must learn to do without
From a human point of view, we cannot understand why one person is ordained into a ministry and another is not. Both can enter the kingdom of God, but the ministers may have to give up different things than those who do not have a ministry. Ministers may have to give up things such as
- material wealth: “Certainly, it can happen that a minister may have to do without earthly wealth. He could perhaps become richer if he did not have to serve the Lord. Because then he would have more time and could perhaps work more.”
- comfort: “When someone is ordained, he must definitely leave his house. Things are less comfortable for him than for others. There is less time to enjoy life and his life is less enjoyable because he shares in the suffering of others.”
- family time: “This means that we are forced to focus on what really matters. We have less time for our family, but the time we do have with them we need to focus on what is really important.”
- being right: “We have to deny ourselves. We have to give up many thoughts and opinions. And sometimes we have to be weak just for the sake of peace and unity.”
“Is this unfair? No, remember that God gives us much more,” the Chief Apostle said.
What ministers receive from God
“With all the things you experience in the course of your work you realise just how great Jesus is,” the Chief Apostle said. “True, you have to leave your family, but He gives you a much bigger family. There are so many brothers and sisters who pray for us, who support us, and who love us.” And in Christ we have been given the best friend we could ever have, the Chief Apostle said. “His help is much greater than any help a human being could give us. He is always there, day and night. Twenty-four seven.” And finally: “You will receive eternal life. And you will have much more than you can imagine. In fact, we will receive much more than we have given to Jesus Christ.”