For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.Mark 8 v 35 (NIV)
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?Mark 8 v 35-37 (The Message)
Are you trying to find yourself.
Jesus gives us a clear answer in Mark’s gospel, it is good news and simple news. Give your life away (to Jesus) and you will find yourself and your life.
If it is that simple why do people look in other directions. Well there are several reasons, and I would love to continue the debate in the comments section but people might say, the church doesn’t give a good example, it’s old and boring and outdated. My feeling is that it has to do with the cost.
One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?”Luke 18 v 18-23 (The Message)
Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honour your father and mother.”
He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.”
When Jesus heard that, he said, “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.
What a striking picture. A rich leader (official) comes to Jesus and asks a question. Can I join your gang? Jesus’ initial answer is surprising, it is about all the young man is already doing. Did you Jesus know this already – we don’t know and the answer comes readily, I do this already. For the young man I suspect that this way of living had come easy to him and Jesus knew it. But the young man must be seeking, he has done all this and yet is still empty, he yearns for something more and goes to the one man who will give him an answer. He wants to go to heaven, he wants to do the right things and yet his heart is still empty.
If we take a sneak peak into his life we see elements that might trigger a bell with those who live in the UK. He is rich and probably surrounded by many different gadgets – the latest iphone or the fastest gaming computer, the best car (or camel). He has food on the table at the end of the day, his wife gets the best presents and his kids go to the best school. It seems to me that I am painting the perfect life, one we in this country would aspire to.
Despite all of this he is still lacking for why would you ask the question he asked. He is trying to earn his way into heaven into feeling good about himself. He is still thinking to go to heaven I must be good. So he goes to the one person he believes can help. Often, when I listen to people talking about their lives I find them sinking themselves into various projects or jobs or titles in an attempt to find themselves. They go through different spiritual exercises, all in an attempt to find themselves and they don’t succeed. For despite it all they are looking in the wrong place and for the wrong thing.
Like the young man in this story we should be looking to Jesus. He holds the keys to heaven and he is the one who will change your life and turn it around. There will always be a cost and in the question Jesus asked the young man he was looking into his heart and seeking his full commitment to following Jesus. Is the cost too much? You will need to answer this question yourself. If you are lacking wholeness, missing something in your life that leaves you unfulfilled and empty, what would you do to gain wholeness in place of emptiness.
Years ago, I spent my life trying to be good to earn the love of a father. Everything I did, didn’t count. So, I rebelled, notice me in this dad please. I still didn’t get a look in, nothing. Then I met Jesus, he noticed me found value in me and placed a worth in my life. I still want to find approval but the person I go to is Jesus. I gave my life of searching over to Jesus with a very simple prayer, Lord, here I am take my life. Life is still tough and I still struggle with identity. Did God promise an immediate fix? No, he doesn’t. It takes time – the whole of your life, but what he does promise is eternity with him. Don’t think of eternity as time, think of it as wholeness, completeness, a quality rather than quantity.
Do I think it is worth it? Yes I do.