Much of what Jesus taught didn’t make sense at first glance. To a group of onlooking Greeks, this statement must have been bewildering: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12.25). Even Jesus’ closest disciples struggled to understand this principle as he revisited it often. But it is core to being a follower of Jesus: if we’re going to experience his life, we must lay down our own.
This doesn’t mean we cease to enjoy life. On the contrary, when we inherit the life God originally designed for us, a life of humility and benevolence, we actually begin to experience a life far beyond self-centeredness. What Jesus is asking his followers to do is change the orientation of their life.
For most of us, the orientation of our life is, well… us. We think about, plan for, and invest in us all the time. Jesus is asking us to let that self-preoccupation die. When we do, and embrace him as our life, we truly find life. As Jesus put it, “. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12.24). That kernel of wheat is you and me.
This is no simple task, but a life-long, moment by moment surrender to allow God first place. To help you process this further, take time to answer this question: When have you observed someone letting go of themselves to follow and serve Jesus? Be sure to discuss this with a friend or someone your trust.
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