Read Luke 17
I must confess that for the most part, I like my life! Most days nothing serious hurts, I have a roof over my head, and food on the table, and clothes on my back. I live in relative security and safety…at least nobody I know of is threatening to kill me. I feel blessed! There is a part of me that intuitively seeks to preserve my life because I enjoy being alive. I know that eventually I will die, but I can’t say that I am in any hurry to make arrangements for that event.
On the other hand, it is not like I live in dread of the day I will die…I don’t actually think about it that often, but I don’t have to dread it because on that day I expect to see Jesus face to face, and I expect that to be unbelievably awesome…albeit slightly unnerving.
In today’s reading Jesus reminds His followers again that,
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose if, but whoever loses his life will keep it. (v. 33)
I can imagine that this must have confused some of His followers a little. Most people likely assume that it works the opposite way. That those who preserve their life keep their life, and those who lose it – well…they lose it! Human logic would support this theory. So what could Jesus mean by this? That we should actively seek ways to put ourselves in harms way in hopes of being killed? I rather doubt that this was His intent. It was however an invitation for His followers to give whatever remained of their life to His service.
When a man or woman totally surrenders their life to Jesus Christ, there is a sense in which they have “lost their life” because they no longer control it. There is, however, also a sense in which they have found a better way to live, because with Jesus in control of their life, things have a tendency to get rather unusual, perhaps even exciting! This is not to suggest that living in consistent obedience to Jesus is always easy. Doing the things He asks us to do often requires incredible courage, especially when it involves risk to life and limb. What makes it exciting is when God uses these courageous acts of faith to change the world the way He did with the three young men in Daniel chapter three who King Nebuchadnezzar tossed into a burning furnace. When they came out unscathed and alive, it changed the way the entire kingdom viewed the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
It takes courage to be willing to give up your life to follow Jesus, but the rewards make it worth the risk. Not only does our life suddenly become more worth living, but we also have the added guarantee that if on one of these occasions God actually requires us to give up our literal life, we have the promise of eternal life with Him. Sounds like a double win to me.