You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness. C.S. Lewis –The Weight of Glory
Jesus said a lot of amazing things — and he backed them up with actions, miracles and healings. Some things — many of the things — he said are troubling, hard to deal with. And so, we often dismiss them or don’t take them as seriously as he meant us to. One of those was the pathway he gave us to a meaningful life, “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35). Jesus meant that to be an inviting reality to the extraordinary through escape from the ordinary.
In my experience, most everybody would love to have an extraordinary life; nobody wants their life to be meaningless or ordinary. Jesus understands this reality and wants the same thing — that is what he is getting at in the Mark passage (and elsewhere). He wants us to experience extraordinary life. He wants us to experience freedom. He wants us to live lives that are more and better than we could imagine on our own (John 10:10) At the same time, Jesus knows that each of us is bombarded by voices that claiming to tell us what the good life is, “eat the apple and you will be better off,” “take are of number one, nobody else will,” “keep all you can so you will never be in want,” “you deserve what the other guy has, so go get it,” “wear this size, achieve this status, live in this place and all it will be extraordinary.”
Jesus knows that these voices lie. That makes sense; he is after all the creator of all things and the sustainer of all things, knowing you better than you know yourself and wanting more for you than even you think you deserve. So, when Jesus says “if you want to save your life you will end up losing it, but if you want to gain your life than stop trying to save it,” he is saying “I have the answer to the good life, not the posers who lie to you and never fulfill what they promise.”
Jesus wants you free. Your first step is naming the thing that keeps you enslaved. Maybe it is a need for affirmation so you tell stories of the things you have done because you need to hear the affirming response. maybe it is a need for power or control and so when things are in jeopardy you resort to ultimatums and intimidations. Maybe it is birthed in an inordinate desire for image, comfort, stimuli, or busyness. You will know it, it is that thing that has more power over you than you intended to give it. Jesus says lose that thing and live, cling to that thing and die (because it can’t provide the life it promises). If you can name that thing, you can own it and give it to God. If you cannot name it, it will own you.
What is that thing for you? Maybe you have many. Pick one and work on that one as we move toward Easter and the celebration of freedom. It is for freedom that you have been set free (Galatians 5:1). The road to freedom is a long road, but Jesus walks it for you as you walk that road with him.
Peace, hope and love