Saving and Losing
Up is down. Down is up. Left is right. Right is left. Anyone who tries to save their life will lose it. Whoever loses their life will save it.
Sometimes Jesus can be downright frustrating to me.
Jesus says things like this (or at least the last part of the first paragraph–I don’t actually recall Jesus ever saying that up is down or that right is left) with some regularity. He is always pointing out seeming paradoxes, and yet because of who Jesus is, I feel compelled to believe him even though it seems to go against the voice of “reason” in my own head. (That voice goes something like this: “How can my life be saved if it has just been lost, Jesus? That doesn’t make much sense.” Clearly, my mind is very smart…)
Matthew 18:3 – “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Mark 10:25 – “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Mark 9:35 – “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.” And, of course, Matthew 10:39 – “Those who find their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives because of me will find them.”
Up is down. Down is up. Left is right. Right is left.
Like I said – Jesus sometimes = frustrating.
But, I also know that Jesus is an amazing ethicist, teacher, leader, and prophet. I believe that Jesus is Savior, King, and Lord. Which means that I must learn to live with these (seeming) paradoxes. I must learn to understand them. And, probably most importantly, I must find ways to live them.
And so for today, I will ask you to join me in living one of these. Just one. Matthew 10:39. “Those who find their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives because of me will find them.”
Today and this week, our task is to become lost in Christ. Now, that is not a phrase that we normally use. In fact, we typically speak of the exact opposite (but remember, this week is all about paradoxes). We normally are focused on being grounded in Christ. Being founded in Christ. Being sound(ed) in Christ. (I couldn’t quite get that last one to rhyme…)
And yet, Matthew 10:39 asks us to lose our lives because of Jesus. Jesus says that those who lay down their lives are living into the fullest expression of love. Jesus invites us to pick up our cross–the very instrument of our death–and follow him. This life in Christ begins with the very thing that most of us spend our entire lives avoiding: Dying. Losing.
But Jesus says that it is precisely in doing so that we gain our lives. That in giving our lives away in the name of Jesus we are found most fully in him. After all, this is what Jesus did. He gave his life away. And in so doing, Jesus defeated the power of death in this world. The grave could not, would not, dare not win. Jesus lives!
This week, lose your life, but do it in the name of Christ. This is not a losing of giving up. It is a losing that brings life, even when our mind tries to tell us that up is up and right is right. Because the truth is that what Jesus teaches us is that what we think is up is not really up at all. Up really is down. And down really is up.
To lose your life, for the sake of and in the name of Christ, is not really losing at all. It is in losing that we are found, not by our own power or will, but by God. And being found in God is truly living