THE LAND BEYOND THE FRONTIER
In Mark 10:29 ,30 Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions–and in the world to come eternal life.” In connection with this statement, the Lord also said, “ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me”(Matt. 10:37). Those who listened to the sayings of Jesus during His earthly ministry found some of His sayings hard to believe and even harder to obey, and this is one of them. No person ever made such a statement and no religious teacher ever made such a demand.
This is the most difficult thing Jesus ever asked people to do in order to follow Him. It is one of the most difficult requirements in the Christian religion. It will help us to understand and appreciate these words of Jesus if we keep in mind that He was speaking of the difficulties involved in becoming Christians. We have not sufficiently emphasized the difference between living in the world and living in the church. To leave parents, children, , lands and houses just to become a Christian is always a traumatic experience. When the Holy Spirit transfers a person from the darkness of the world into the kingdom of Christ, it is an experience far different from simply joining a club or a fraternal organization. Sometimes, it is a painful emotional experience.
Jesus often used analogies from everyday life to explain the nature of His coming kingdom, and the meaning of many of His other teachings. He used metaphors, similes, parables, proverbs, and other stories based on life as He saw it about Him. To help us better understand these difficult sayings, I would like to make a comparison between the people mentioned in His saying and many people who have made our wonderful country what it is. The comparison is timely inasmuch as the nation has just observed July the 4th, the birthday of United States of America.. July 4 is the anniversary of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress—July 4, 1776.
I would like to suggest that becoming a Christian, in a real sense,
is comparable to crossing a new frontier. In this confused and mixed up
world, the church is like a land beyond the frontier. The Lord's reference to leaving lands and houses reminds us of those pioneers who crossed frontiers to new lands, , who left lands and houses and relatives, leaving old relationships for new relationships.
My first point is that there is a natural reluctance to crossing frontiers, earthly or spiritual.. That is a well known truth. Crossing frontiers does not appeal to all people. A frontier is that outer extremity of a land that faces a new unsettled and unconquered territory. By nature people do not like to cross frontiers into a new territory and to break with old relationships. We all become accustomed to a certain social environment.. Under normal conditions, the members of one family desire to remain in the same vicinity and are quite satisfied to live and die in the city in which they were born and raised.. For some reason deep in our psyche, people do not like to move from a city where a lifetime of friendships have been built up
However in spite of this reluctance, people have been impelled to cross frontiers when the causes are great enough and rewarding enough. We will leave lands, fathers, mothers and relatives, if we have sufficient reason to do so. When reasons are strong enough, people leave old relationships and cross the frontier into a new land. Young men and women leave their parents to establish a home of their own. The word of God teaches that men and women should leave father and mother and cleave to the one with whom they shall spend the rest of their lives. If they are not willing to do this, they should not get married. They should do this became the marriage relationship is the supreme relationship and takes precedence over the parent-child relationship. In addition young people leave their hometowns in order that they might pursue a better livelihood.
Several years ago, I looked at a picture in the newspaper which was made in Berlin, Germany. A woman was standing on a ledge of an outside wall of a building. She was holding on to the window and looking down at the street below. Standing on the inside of the window is a man and a small boy just tall enough to reach the top of the window. Below the picture was this explanation.
“Desperate leap! West Berlin firemen wait below with a net as refugees prepare to leap from an East Berlin street below.” This woman decided to cross the frontier from a land of tyranny to a land of freedom. I wonder how much this woman left behind to cross that frontier to freedom.
Our forefathers provide a good illustration of what it means to leave lands, houses and relatives to cross a frontier. On December 26, 1620, 102 pilgrims who left their land, houses and relatives in England came ashore at Plymouth, Mass. When the Mayflower sailed away, the last tie with home was cut. The Massachusetts winter had set in and food was scarce. By spring, 14 of the 18 wives who sailed on the ship were dead. Following the coming of the pilgrims, the next two hundred years was a time of crossing frontiers. America became a land of frontiers, one of the most exciting chapters in American history.
I have presented these frontier illustrations to help us understand and appreciate these words of Jesus about leaving lands, father and mother and children and other relatives to become Christians.. So far as people of the world are concerned the church is a frontier land. The church qualifies in the definition of a frontier, for the church is a strange, unsettled and unattractive territory for most people; and only a few will cross that frontier that separates the world from the Lord's church. When Jesus spoke of leaving lands, houses and relatives for His sake, He was speaking of the greatest of all frontiers, a frontier that has existed since the beginning of the Christian religion. The word church means “the called out.” The church is the saved people of God, not a cathedral or some beautiful church building. The church is people whom God has called out of the world into the kingdom of Christ. There is a real sense in which people must leave the world to become a Christian. God says, “Come out from among the people of the world and do not touch the unclean things and I will receive you.” To cross over and enter the church is to enter into a new state or relationship and to enter into a new way of life. Although Christians are in the world, spiritually speaking, they are not of the world. They have left it.
This is what everyone must do to cross the frontier that separates the world from the church, but we do not like to do it Even though God says we must do it, there is a natural reluctance to do it. We do not like to break with old friendships and relationships. People are reluctant to enter the church for the same reason that people do not like to cross frontiers into a new, strange land with strange customs, a different culture and new laws. By nature we prefer the status quo.
Moreover when Jesus said that we may have to leave father and mother and children and other relatives to follow Him, this makes it even more difficult to cross the frontier and enter the church. By nature
people do not like to do what Jesus said to do-- Leave lands, parents children and relatives. Other religions greatly interfere with their members converting to Christianity. Other churches in Christendom interfere when their members desire to change to a church they consider closer to the teachings of the Bible. Unbelieving parents often interfere with children desiring to become Christians. Religious parents often interfere with their children who conscientiously believe their parents are in the wrong church, and they decide to cross the frontier into the Lord's church. Friends, if I understand what a frontier is, these are frontier situations, and people must cross this frontier under excruciating circumstances. Those who enter the church under these circumstances have to pay an awful price in losing the love, friendship and fellowship of their relatives. These are special people and deserve special love, care and honor.
To encourage people in these unfortunate circumstances to do what is right, Jesus gave the most compelling reasons to make the crossing, regardless of the personal cost, family division and inconvenience. Jesus said that whoever leaves lands, houses, mother, fathers and relatives for His sake, and the sake of His church, will receive a hundredfold in this life and eternal life in the world to come. The word “hundredfold” is not to be taken literally but means “overwhelmingly more.” You will gain far more than you will lose. He said people will lose nothing by entering His church, but will gain more in this world as well as the world to come. If you lose the love and respect of your relatives, you will find new relatives in the church. Whatever love and affection you lose in the world, you will regain in the church. You will find all the love you need in the church, and when you die you will go to heaven, and possibly take some of your family with you. . You have Christ's word for it. Those are compelling reasons to cross this frontier and enter into the narrow way that leads to eternal life.
Knowing the difficulty people would have in crossing over in religiously divided families and the pressure family members would put on new converts to leave the church, it led Jesus to make this very hard saying, “He who loves father and mother than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who does not take His cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me”(Matt. 10:37). He spoke these words to fortify His followers who are in these difficult family situations. It really is not the fault of Jesus that some will accept the truth and some will not. However, the closest family ties, when they come into conflict with our duties to God, must be
disregarded.. We must obey God and not man, even if it is our closest relatives. As much as we love our relatives, we cannot let them stand between us and Christ. We must love Jesus above all others. Truth is more authoritative than a parent. Jesus has done more for us than the nearest relative can possibly do. We all must give an account to Christ. If we let an earthly tie have precedence over our love for Jesus, we are not worthy of Him.
Finally, in this connection Jesus said, “Whoever does not take his cross and follow after Me, is not worthy of Me.” He refers to the inconvenience, difficulty and suffering He underwent in dying for our sins. He fell beneath the load of His cross. It is because of all that He was willing to go through that He might save us that He asks us to take up our cross, whatever that cross may be and follow Him. To take up our cross means to submit to any trouble, inconvenience or unpleasantness that might come on us. It means a willingness to suffer for Christ. He wants us to stand up to all the trials that providentially He may allow to come upon us. This does not mean we should carry a literal wooden cross around. It means each one of us must carry his own cross of suffering, whatever that cross might turn out to be. Jesus mentions two things that render one unworthy to follow Him–to love father and mother more than Him and to fail to bear one's own cross in life, if need be. If you believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and are willing to change your past sinful way of life and follow Him all the days of your life, you can come to baptism. If you have any questions, call the number on this website.