"… 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 …" (Mark 10:29-30).
I read it in French today and it was just different enough to call my attention to it in a new way:
"… il n'y a personne qui ait quitte maison, ou freres, ou soeurs, ou pere, ou mere, ou femme, ou enfants, ou des terres, pour l'amour de moi et de l'Evangile, qui n'en receive … cent fois autant. …"
"For the love of me and of the gospel."
The wording struck me: Jesus wants me to love Him-but Jesus wants me to also love the gospel, on the same level! Now I would have been willing to attest until now that I believe the gospel, and I am for the gospel, and I desire to defend the gospel. But I had not thought in terms of loving the gospel.
To be fair, the Greek word behind the translations is not "love"; "eiken" seems to be well rendered as "for the sake of." And yet the grammatical parallelism of "Jesus" and "the gospel" in this verse allows us to conclude, without overstepping our warrant, that God is calling for our affection for the gospel to be on the plane with our affection for Jesus Himself.
The upshot of this for me personally is the way it precludes self-deception. Here is what I mean: If I had been told only that I must love Christ so much as to value Him weightier in the scales than every person or thing that rests in the other scale, then my devious mind would have persuaded me, even in my complacency, that I was doing that already. I would have said, "Sure, I love Christ with all my heart. I know it doesn't show much on the outside, but I do. It's just me and Jesus in our own private little relationship."
But when God tells me He wants me to love the gospel so much that my affection and zeal for it outweigh whatever I could put on the opposite scales, then I am in trouble if I want to continue in a "private" and ingrown Christian life. This is because the gospel is, in the nature of the case, a very outgoing and pursuing and deliberate thing. And so I am confronted with myself in the light of God's demand: How much do I "love" the gospel? How much do I love the idea of my next-door neighbors being saved from hell? Not much wiggle room in the answer if God puts affection for the gospel on the same level as affection for Christ. To love Christ truly is to love His appeal to the masses of unsaved men.