Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? – Matthew 16:24-26
We are a self-centered lot. The news is littered with images of people camped for days around city blocks because we don’t want to wait one extra second for the next iPhone or the next version of Xbox. We stomp our feet in front of the microwave because waiting five minutes for popcorn is simply not appropriate. We want what we want when we want it. We are looking out for Number One. Going forth to have it All because we are entitled! Entitled, I say! But if that is truly the case, then why are we all so freakin’ miserable?
Could it be that we are made for more than consumerism and selfishness?
When Jesus speaks of “losing your life,” I really don’t think he’s talking about martyrdom. What he’s talking about is living your life for something bigger than yourself. God grants us all gifts that He wants us to use for the betterment of our world. When we are living in harmony with those gifts and seeing beyond our own nose, we are happier. We have a sense of purpose and perspective. Who cares how old your iPhone is if you are happy in what you’re doing with your life?
Losing our life is not about going to live in a yurt in the Andes and eating bugs with the lost tribes. It’s about investing ourselves in other people’s lives. The people you work with. Your neighbors. Your kid’s friends. It’s about really listening to what people have to say. It’s knowing that we don’t have all the answers, but that’s okay. Sometimes all people really need is a hug, an ear and a good dinner. Loving people in tangible ways.
In John 13:35, Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Not because we go to the right church. Not because we drive the right car. Not because we don’t drink, don’t dance and don’t beat our spouses. But because we loved one another. Because we got out of our own way enough to see the bigger picture. Because we found something so amazing in Christ that we couldn’t wait to share it with everyone around us.
The media is full of examples of people desperate to hold on to something. Youth. Fame. Money. Desperation is a pathetic thing to watch. The harder they tried to hold on to their “thing,” the more it slips away. That’s what Jesus is telling us. Don’t hold on to the stuff that doesn’t last. Invest in the stuff that does.
Losing is gaining. The cost is a life well spent, and the dividend is emotional and spiritual freedom.