Christ’s command to ‘go’ includes the real choice to leave all. We first choose at salvation but enforce it daily in our faithful, obedient Christian walk.
So He said to them, “Assuredly, 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.” (Luke 18:29-30)
The very thought of leaving is usually accompanied by negative feelings. It has a sense of finality about it that brings insecurities, fears, and even resentment. Yet the Bible is full of stories of leaving and separation. If we look at the New Testament, we see how believers were scattered and had to leave all for the sake of the kingdom of God. While it’s comforting to see that their ‘leave all’ was how the gospel was spread, the thought of having that choice thrust upon us is often daunting. Yet it’s a choice we live with daily. It is a critical truth of our new life in Christ.
We choose to leave all at salvation.
When we choose to follow Christ, we essentially commit ourselves as citizens of the kingdom of God. It’s important to remember that it’s a kingdom, not a democracy. Jesus is our King of kings – vastly superior to any worldly king or ruler. It follows, then, that His sovereignty is absolute. As citizens of the kingdom of Heaven, we have access to the benefits our king has to offer. He is a king who has given all to bring us into His kingdom. But our new citizenship requires us to leave all those things that prevent us giving Him our all in return. There is no space in the kingdom of God for self, our own will, or our own dreams and desires.
The necessity of leaving is so real that Jesus urges us to count the cost before we commit to something we cannot see through. We cannot blithely choose God on the assumption that it’s all going to be a kind of ‘spiritual honeymoon.’ Salvation is an all or nothing covenant. God’s all and our all come together in relationship, worship, and intimacy. We cannot ‘serve two masters.’ While this admonition is spoken in the context of Mammon, the spiritual principle is universal. We cannot please God and others, nor can we follow God’s ways and the world’s ways at the same time. When we commit to Christ and to His kingdom, we commit to leave all for the sake of that kingdom.
How we leave all in our Christian walk.
When we are born again we leave a number of things. Our self-life, for one, along with our sin. Then, we leave our old habits and behaviours. We leave our patterns of wrong thinking and ungodly desires. Our old allegiance to the slave-masters of sin and the devil are left behind. Finally, we leave our past and our spiritual death behind us. It’s a significant list, one which is sweeping and transformational. The cross is our spiritual ‘line in the sand.’ It’s the place where we make the decision to leave all that is our old life and take up the new life in Christ. When we acknowledge our sinfulness and surrender to Christ, we essentially choose God over everything else. It’s a life-changing decision from which there is no turning back.
Like Israel, we cannot look back. Lot’s wife tried that, and look what happened to her. But it doesn’t end at salvation. We simply enter a process that requires us to leave all for the sake of the kingdom over and over again. What this means is that salvation is a ‘unilateral’ decision to choose God – to leave all. We make our choice and in the spiritual, we have already ‘left’ all the other things behind us. Everything contained in salvation is already ours. But the reality is that we’re incapable of making a complete and immediate transformation. We have to confront the often many aspects of all of the things we have left in the spirit and make them a reality by choosing God over each issue. To put it another way, we ‘work out’ our leaving step by step, gradually making each a reality in our lives.
The spiritual truth of leave all.
Simply choosing to belong to the kingdom of God means we must leave all. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). The relevance of this verse is that we have been set apart – separated – as God’s people. That highlights the essential truth that we leave all. We cannot be set apart or separate if we’re still hanging around with one foot in the ‘all.’ The moment we commit to Christ, God sets us apart. We are now separated from everything else and belong only to God, destined for His service. While being born again brings a host of wonderful blessings, our new life has nothing to do with the old one. Being a new creation means the old one, with the ‘all’ that defined it, no longer exists in the spirit.
In essence, the decision to leave all for the sake of the kingdom of God has already been made. Whatever choices we may have to make from salvation onwards are the outworking or the practical ‘roll out’ of that first choice. These decisions may come in the form of separating ourselves from people who mock God or whose lifestyles are sinful and arrogant. We don’t love them any the less, but we choose not to identify ourselves with what they stand for. It may well be that their resentment or attitude force a more painful separation, but we must choose to honour our commitment to leave all. Or it could be possessions, activities, habits, or types of behaviour. Whatever God prompts us to leave is simply our obedience to a commitment we have already made.
Leave all is the response to ‘go.’
At the very end Christ’s life on earth, just before His ascension, He left His disciples with a powerful instruction to go and spread the Gospel to all corners of the earth and make disciples. This, in a nutshell, is the command to leave all for the sake of the kingdom of God. It’s a command that has never been retracted, and it’s for every follower of Christ. It is the final command of our king while on this earth, and it remains in force. No one can avoid or ignore it. To go may simply mean to our home, work, or social group. It may mean our community, town, or province. But it may also require us to go further afield.
I can testify that today’s verses are absolutely true. God has proved it to me over and over. For a little longer than a year, He has required me to ‘go’ and ‘leave all.’ For someone who is essentially a homebody, and to whom family is vital and precious, this is sometimes a real challenge. The instruction came as a work opportunity I never expected and, ordinarily, would have never considered. At the time, however, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was God’s instruction to go. I honestly never even gave it a moment’s thought. I simply knew that I knew that I knew that it was the will of God. While practical obedience is often difficult – I miss my home, my family, my church, my fur babies, and my garden – I have never once doubted that I must leave all and go.
God’s grace inhabits His command to leave all.
Verse 30 highlights the supernatural grace of God. It reminds us that, while we do not serve our King and His kingdom for rewards, He is both generous and gracious. I look at how my life is working out in absolute amazement. When I first set off into the ‘great unknown’ armed only with my faith and my Garmin, I had no idea at all what He intended. But His ways are perfect and powerful. Every time He requires me to leave all, He brings at least one person across my path along the way. These spiritual encounters are always opportunities to share the truth and encourage others – to fulfil my calling which is to help others discover true worship and intimacy with God.
In His grace and mercy He has not made me have to choose to cut myself off from those I love. Still, the command to leave all is not always easy, and I sometimes drag my heels on my way to the airport. But my spiritual family is growing. He brings in others whom I would never have met otherwise. I daily see that the ‘many more times’ is becoming a reality. The truth is that I’m as ‘special’ as the next man. What God is doing in my life, He will do in yours in the way that is perfect for you. I can only give thanks that He showed me the absolute necessity to leave all for the sake of the kingdom. Any hardship – it really is no fun living out of suitcases in bed and breakfasts where you know no one – is abundantly outweighed by His blessings.
Finding the courage to leave all.
Human nature is both odd and predictable. We surround ourselves with things that ‘add value’ to our lives. These can be people, possessions, or simply activities that please us and make us feel safe, loved, needed, and valued. We create our own little ‘kingdom’ in which we rule and order things according to our needs and desires. To even consider giving this up is a real challenge, because to leave all essentially means to leave self – who and what we are and have been our entire lives. It takes tremendous courage to leave all. The foundation of this courage lies in the absolute faith that God is in control and will do what He has promised.
We can grasp this by remembering that God is intensely engaged with the work of His kingdom. It’s not a sideline or a way to keep us occupied or make our lives difficult. His kingdom is a dynamic, living kingdom which embodies His purpose from the creation of the world. He is so invested in it that He sent His Son to die to enable it. Knowing that we have this powerful, all-encompassing passion of God makes the decision and obedience to leave all a little easier. Courage comes by knowing that God is in it, totally and completely. Remember, Jesus left all His glory and majesty to become man so that we could leave all to become sons of God. He has gone before us to both make the way and show us the way.
The choice to leave all is already made.
This is a comfort, one which removes a lot of the angst and deliberation. In choosing Christ, we have already chosen to leave all. What remains now – our particular moments of choice – are simply the outworking of a spiritual choice that is already a reality. The comfort comes in the knowledge that God honours and empowers our right choices. We don’t have what it takes, but He does, and He supplies what we lack to support our obedience. The choosing is ours, but the doing is the work of God through His Spirit in us. We can step out in faith and assurance that He is beside us and in us. He always empowers the work of His kingdom in ways we could never imagine.
What is even more wonderful is that His grace extends beyond this. The work of His kingdom is so precious and important to Him that He has already made provision for multiplied restoration, both in this life and in eternal life. When we choose to leave all for the sake of the kingdom, He responds with His choice to release the promised blessings. I have learned that we are continually called to go and leave all. They may be small moments in the busyness of our daily lives or larger challenges that remove us entirely from our comfort zone, but each choice simply the outworking of a greater choice we have already made.
To leave all brings an unexpected blessing.
There is another ‘something wonderful’ that He has taught me. It’s kind of a bonus blessing, wholly unexpected but powerfully releasing. When we take the decision to leave all, this includes the stress and anxiety. If God has said go, we have nothing to worry about. Our lack of confidence or inability has no relevance. We don’t have to carry the responsibility for the outcome, or make it happen. He doesn’t expect us to do what we realistically cannot. Most important, self – with its doubts, contradictions, protests, and exhausting demands – can be left behind. This is the supernatural peace that passes all understanding and outweighs the cost of leaving all. But it’s only when we step out in obedience and faith that we see the blessing – unlooked for but entirely, wonderfully sustaining. God, indeed, is good.
Lord, we thank You for showing us that the decision to leave all has already been made at salvation. Grant us the grace and courage to cement this choice in our daily lives. Help us to recognise the opportunities and to hear Your command to go. Strengthen our faith and our courage to be obedient, trusting in the certainty that You have provided beyond our imaginings. Above all, we thank You for the incredible privilege to work alongside You in Your kingdom.