For the past few weeks, God’s been leading me back to a certain point, and I’m not entirely sure why, but I know it’s for a reason. Maybe it’s for me or maybe it’s for one of you and I’m just the messenger. Regardless, after thinking about it during Alan’s sermons, during Focus on Sunday nights, and when I write the blog every week, I do believe now is the right time to talk about it. I’m not going to promise that this post will be a huge revelation, but it’s just been on my heart lately.
Jesus says in Luke 9:23-24 (NRSV), “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
Jesus also says in John 10:10 (NRSV), “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Two fairly common scriptures, right? But at a glance, there’s a contradiction here. One says we need to lose our life for Jesus while the other says that Jesus came to give us abundant life. To the world, that would seem problematic. And maybe to some believers that would seem problematic.
We’re so used to it being all about us. We hear it all the time, but when you stop and think about it, to some extent, it makes sense that we would think that. It’s my life, my decisions, my actions, my preferences, my perception. It’s not illogical for someone to think their life is all about them.
That’s not to say that it’s okay for people to take outside situations and other people’s problems and make it all about them. That’s a different issue altogether. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s understandable for someone, to some extent, to think it’s all about them.
But as much as we may be used to it and as understandable as it is, we’re wrong. It’s not all about us. It’s about God.
We say that all the time, and I would have no trouble whatsoever believing that someone is tired of hearing it. That being said, there’s a big difference between saying it and hearing it and actually living it.
I taught at Focus about a month ago, and I asked the teenagers what it meant to die to ourselves daily, and I got some great answers such as “being selfless” and “going beyond ourselves.” Those are very good answers, especially from such young believers, but it’s more than that. It’s giving up what we want. It’s realizing that while we are free to make our own decisions, we should consult God first and follow His advice, even if it’s not what we want to do. It’s stopping our mouths from running off at someone to think about how much God loves that person or to pray for them. It’s trading where we want to be in life for where God wants to take us. It’s giving up our life for the life He wants for us.
That sounds terrible, but once we go a little deeper, it’s not. We think it’s a compromise of who we are and that we’ll end up miserable. God made you who you are for a reason. He created you to like and dislike certain things, to feel certain ways, to view the world the way you do. And He didn’t make you that way just to turn around and change all of it. In giving your life to God – really, truly, entirely – you aren’t compromising who you are or what you want. You’re handing your seat at the control panel over to God, who loves you, knows you, and knows what life you’ll enjoy the most.
I’m glad I’ve given God control of my life because I can assure you that if my life had gone the course I’d planned, I’d be absolutely miserable right now. I wouldn’t have the friends I have, I wouldn’t have the security I have, and I’d be way more in debt than I am. Mostly, I wouldn’t be as close to God as I am. Yes, I’ve “suffered” by giving up certain things or not getting what I want, but I am so much better for it.
I’ve lost my life for God, but I have more life now than I could ever imagine.
When we lose our life for God, we broaden our horizons. Our eyes open up to opportunities, our hearts open up to people, and doors open up for us. We’re still the same people we were, but we’re so different. And all of that leads to abundant life.
Romans 6:6-11 (NRSV) says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
It seems weird to say that we gain freedom by pledging our lives to something, but it’s what happens when we give our lives to God. The abundance that He gives us goes beyond our mortal lives here and spills over into eternity with Him. But before we gain the abundance, we must lose our lives. Leave the sin and follow the Savior. Losing our lives to God is the last transition from our old selves to our new ones.
On Sunday, Alan said, “It should be impossible for us to go back knowing how great God is,” and that’s so remarkably true. We’re quick to remember the old, fleeting feelings of our sin and quick to forget that our walk with God has both mountains and valleys and never plateaus. The truth is that our worst days with God are far better than our best days without Him. And if you’ve yet to experience that, if you find yourself doubting that, I suggest you start by losing your life to God today. You’ll be surprised how alive you’ll start to feel.
By Carrie Prevette