Dear Devotion Group: Next week Seth Caddell, Adult Ministry Associate from Northside Christian Church, will be my guest devotion writer. Seth will also be preaching this Sunday, July 5th. I know you will enjoy his work. Blessings, Larry Jones
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35 NIV)
What is wrong with saving our life?
Many years ago I started going to a dermatologist once a year. When I was a teenager I lived on the Gulf Coast, and I took full advantage of the fun and sun. My skin was baked and my hair was blond. And like any responsible sun lover I used the best sun tan oil I could find.
That’s right…oil. For those of you who may not remember, the goal of working and playing in the sun used to be to get as dark as possible. And sun tan oil made that possible.
It also burned and damaged our skin beyond repair. That’s why once a year I have a professional examine me. And every now and then, he finds something. When in doubt, I say, “Take it off!”
I want to save my life.
Is that what Jesus says we aren’t supposed to do in our passage this morning? I don’t think so.
I believe the life we aren’t supposed to save is more about the blessings, gifts and opportunities God gives us for His glory. It is also about the temptation we have to save our lives at the expense of giving up our deepest convictions.
Which is worse: to lose our lives in order to remain true to ourselves, or to save our lives and live the rest of our lives knowing we betrayed our very being?
And then we come to the “gospel.” There really is no way to soften the meaning of Jesus’ words here. I know we may struggle to think in terms of losing our very lives in order to share the gospel with others. Certainly, we don’t have to physically die to lose our lives. We can lose them by pouring everything into the Lord’s work. But unless we are willing to literally die for the sake Christ, we cannot fully adopt Jesus teaching in today’s passage.
I’ll be honest. I can’t say I am there. I have never been tested with my very life. My convictions and commitment have been run through the ringer. But never all that I have…all that I am.
But I strive for this: to die daily to myself, and to prepare for the place where God might ask me to lay my life down.
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more dying to do.
Dear God, teach me what to live for, and what to die for. In Jesus’ name. Amen.