Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Luke 9:23-26 -- On Misplacing Ourselves

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."
Luke 9:23-26

Losing your life and saving your life... when we hear those words, we usually think they are talking about physical death, because that is where we typically have the most concerns.  But in these verses there is an interesting juxtaposition of losing your life to save your life.  What does this mean?  ... I don't have all the answers, but one thing that it makes me think of is selfishness or just regular self-interest.  Denying ourselves and taking up our cross are two sides of the same coin.  It's basically encouraging us to let go of the things that distract us from being good and finding peace... and accept the burdens of doing the right thing.  Our example in this is Christ, who denied himself his own will in wanting to physically live, and accepted the literal burden of the cross in dying for us.  Our denial and our burden are not as extreme, but they are still significant to us.  But the very focus on them could be the problem.  We focus so much on what we're giving up, or on the burdens that we are accepting that we don't realize that the way to find peace and the way to wholeness is by letting go of both of those distractions entirely, and changing our focus to doing good... to changing people's lives for the better.  We have to lose that focus on our internal satisfactionometer in order to ever feel more than partially satisfied. :)
The idea of losing our lives for Christ's sake is also showing us a change of focus.  If we were focused on our own lives, we wouldn't be making a choice like that.  We would only do that if we were focused on Christ.  The third verse of the selection changes it up a little bit... it talks about gaining the whole world.  Wow. :)  And what good would that do if we thereafter lost ourselves, or were cast away.  This is a different kind of losing, and illustrates again our focus.  The focus here is on the whole world... on acquisition, on getting everything.  And because our focus was there, we lost what mattered... ourselves, being cast away.  Even the shame in the last verse shows focus.  We wouldn't be ashamed of God if we were focused on him... only if we were focused on what people think of *us.*
Today, let's "lose our lives" by misplacing our internal focus, and forgetting ourselves entirely.  Let's focus instead on the people around us, and think about how we can help and serve them.  Let's not think about what God can do for us, but about what we can do for God.  Let's be so focused on following the Savior that we forget that there was even an option to be ashamed of him. :)  And I think, in the process of forgetting, we will find so much that we have been actively seeking.  The inner peace that we were missing.  The happiness that we were craving... so many things that we can never get by stalking them... only by letting go, and focusing on love.  By misplacing ourselves, we find what truly matters.

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