Losing and Gaining Life

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” – Matthew 16:21-28

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Sea Gull on Gulf of California | August 2019

I am a terrible speller. If it were not for those little squiggly red lines under misspelled words, I’d be sunk. I consistently make words more difficult to spell than they are. And does that word have an “i” or an “e” in it? I’m hopeless. I don’t know how those who spell well keep it all straight!

When Diane and I were first dating we held to Romans 8:28 as a promise and had a motto: “We can’t lose.” Only I regularly spelled it, “We can’t loose.” Sad. She finally pointed that out to me and I was able to keep that one straight.

The idea of gaining life by losing it, however, is not merely a matter of keeping the spelling straight. It’s a matter of comprehending the paradox of the Christian life. When we seek to hold onto life, making sure we get all that is coming to us, we will end up losing the very thing we seek. We will be more miserable than if we suffer gravely as a follower of Jesus. Suffering as a follower of Jesus – losing life because we are committed to being faithful to him – will yield a life of purpose and meaning greater than the greatest success can ever deliver.

This has been a key value and belief of mine for many years. I am convinced that meaning, purpose, and a true sense of significance if sound in serving others. We can try to succeed. We can seek to be famous. We can strive to be recognized. And all these vie for our hearts. But none will satisfy. Only when we give ourselves to following, serving, and living for Jesus’ sake and glory will we find true life, joy and meaning.

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