I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to “lose my life.” Jesus calls us to it in Mark 3:24-26:
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?“
There Jesus goes again. Upside-down living. Saving a life by losing it?
I used to think that Jesus was calling us all to be literal martyrs in that passage. Like, you know. Go into the Amazon or the Bush and be prepared to die (literally lose your life) for His cause. I don’t think that’s not in there. Many of His disciples have been called to lay down their lives for His sake. Many people still lose everything to call themselves followers of Christ.
But in a country with religious freedom, I don’t think “losing one’s life for His sake” necessarily looks like physical death in the U.S. Honestly, I know I can go to church in my country and am not at risk of persecution by my government or another religion in my country. I can talk freely about my beliefs in public. I’m afforded this right in my country.
So what does it cost to be a believer here?
I think it’s a cultural death of sorts.
It’s living His priorities. It’s hanging out with the poor, the outcasts, the unlovable. It’s seeing everyone as our neighbor. It’s caring for the orphan and the widow. It’s faith with deeds. It’s not loving the things of this world. It’s loving our enemies, walking the extra mile, and turning the other cheek. It’s not living a materialistic, money-based life or worrying about what might come tomorrow. It’s not judging.
It’s a life on a narrow road.
This sort of life draws ridicule from our culture.
I know. I’ve recently heard the whispers behind my back.
As God has called me to see and value the things that He sees and values, I have started to lose my life. Instead of spending my two weeks off from work at home or on a glamorous vacation, I went to Africa to hang out with orphans. Twice. It’s meant adopting. Obedience in starting our family has taking us down a very unorthodox path. We don’t strive for big things that would define our success in our culture. “Comfortable living” has taken a new meaning.
So in Matthew 10:39, Jesus tells his followers this:
He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
I used to think I was alive before. I used to think striving for titles and success was life. Comfort and things. Now, I see that’s not it at all.
I’m laying down my life. My priorities. My preconceptions of success. My ideas of comfort. My ways. My pride. My popularity.
I want my life to be His.
Whatever the cost here in the U.S.