“Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Verse 25 (NIV)
Early in my days as a house builder I recall an accident that happened to my boss. A sheet of plywood was picked up by the wind, came flying directly toward us and we ducked. Unfortunately, my boss was six foot, four inches tall and he caught the edge of the sheet right on the head. It peeled his scalp back a good three inches. Two weeks later there was an infection that needed to be rooted out. In order to pull the skin back to clean the infection, they had to loosen the skin around the infected area and literally pull it all together. Believe it or not, they used two buttons so they would not tear the skin. The result: he got a free face lift and the wrinkles that were in his forehead were gone. Behold – A New Man.
The life of Christian discipleship aims to follow that pattern of removing toxic things from our lives every day. To surrender to Jesus is to “die to live,” giving over to him our sin, our wounds, and all our baggage so that he may refill us with new life through the Holy Spirit. It’s much more complex than an infection that was cleaned out, and the results are literally life changing.
The seeming paradox of finding our lives by losing them is a bit hard to grasp. This doesn’t come naturally to us. But when we take time to reflect on this call to change, we will see that dying to live is a journey of joy, gratitude, and grace.
I sometimes imagine what a Sunday service would look like if everyone prayed before coming to the church service, “Lord, please show me anew how to die for you.” I pictured communities in which the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, and more – could grow in abundance as toxins were cleaned out. That’s the fruit of a community that is dying to live.
Jesus, thank you for inviting me into full life with you. Help me to see what you need to clean out as I live with you. Amen.