Wednesday, December 22, 1999
"And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
There are a lot of interesting things here... I think the most interesting is the whole perspective/priority thing. We limit ourselves so much when we make earthly things our main focus. Tracy Chapman says "all you have is your soul" and I think she has a point. A lot of people in the world are willing, and even glad, to exchange their souls for worldly power, pleasure, whatever... things that they think will make them happy. we make the same choices sometimes. Go through life and try to balance God and the spiritual side with all the rest of the things that we want and "need." Maybe this scripture is saying that we are looking at it in the wrong way. Balance isn't what we need, it's an absolute choice. We either embrace God fully and completely or we start walking away from him. we can't have it both ways... and the only way with any real benefit, in the end, is God's way. The cool thing about it, is that God gives us the things that we need and want that are good for us, as a byproduct of living his way. It isn't an easy choice, taking up your cross seems to imply that it will be painful at times... even the most painful thing that we will ever do... and it also implies that it will take time, you have to carry your cross through the streets and get ridiculed and spit on before it's over. But, seriously... doing it another way, what are we gaining? if our souls are lost, if we can never wake up from this amnesiac sleep that we call life and remember God and everything that really matters to us... then it's all pointless. What in our lives *are* we gaining if we lose our souls?
And, perhaps the last verse offers some hope as well... what are we willing to give to regain our souls? The JST of this verse says "Therefore deny yourselves of these, and be not ashamed of me." If we have been trading away our souls for something else... and since we haven't been translated yet, we probably all do this in some measure... God gives us a way out. The whole priority thing... if, instead of putting our lives first, trying to make them into what we imagine we want them to be... and we start putting God, and his children ahead of all that... God will make our lives better than our little minds could imagine them, and we'll be way better off than we ever tried to be making it up on our own. The cool thing about God is that we never *really* sacrifice anything. We give up what matters most in the world to us, and God comes right back and gives us something far far better. It's hard to make the choice when you can't imagine anything better... but it is there.