Sunday, July 6, 2008
Losing My Life
One of the things I have discovered about Christianity is that I am continually challenged in my understanding of the Bible, and in how I live my life in response to what I am learning.
As a pastor's son, I learned the "right" Baptist responses to life's questions. They became rote replies when I spoke with friends or family about the struggles they faced. However when my own life faced difficulty, the "right" responses I learned seemed to hold little comfort or promise.
This, gentle reader, is when faith becomes personal. You wrestle with God, and theology, and culture. Sometimes it shakes the core of who you are...or who you think you are, or wish you were.
A couple days ago, I heard a commentator on the radio speak about familiar passages of scripture from the gospels...
Mt 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mt 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Mk 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Lk 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it
Lk 17:33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
Jn 12:25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
As many of you know, the New Testament was written in Greek, and sometimes understanding the original words and their meaning shed light on the real intent of the author.
In this case, the two Greek words translated "life" are different. The first is generally rendered "soul" and denotes the individual personality, with all its related experiences and achievements. The second is usually coupled with the adjective "eternal" in John and means the spiritual vitality that is the experience of God.
The expression "who hates his life" is a hyperbolic expression which means that one is to base one's priorities on that which is outside oneself. In this instance, it is to make Christ the Master of one's life.
I was shocked that such a seemingly obvious truth had eluded me all these years.
I had mainly heard these scriptures used in reference to those who had actually been martyred for their faith.
However, read in the light of understanding the original Greek words, Jesus is calling us as disciples to lose our life in His. For some that may mean losing physical life for their faith.
However we all have the opportunity to lose our lives in the life of Christ. In other words, our lives become so much in line with His will and character, people no longer see us, but see Christ when they look at us.
I confess that I am still struggling with the concept, and the application in my life. But hey...sometimes that is where real growth comes from, eh?