I had a startling realization last night; I’m getting old. Yeah, I’m still young at 32, but I’m not as young as I once was for sure. You see last night I played in our church league softball game. The realization started when my friend yelled for me to run harder and turn second to see if I could make third. Thankfully, the third baseman dropped the ball because I was too slow to beat the throw. Then I noticed how quickly I got tired and sore. And it finally sank in when I woke up this morning and felt like I had been at football practice all week long. I have a sore leg, wrist, and hip. Did I mention this was from slow pitch softball?
Anyway, I woke up today feeling pretty beat, and maybe slightly depressed that my body doesn’t work as good as it once did. And maybe I’m slightly depressed because I anticipate that to get worse year after year. However, today I was thinking of the words of a pastor named Greg Boyd who I’ve heard say that life is about learning to lose. It is a series of losing. You lose your hair, lose your flexibility, lose your stamina, your health, your youth, etc. Depressed yet? But here is the deal, we follow a Lord who has called us to lose, and in doing so to find.
I am always a bit fascinated by how tempting it is to turn Jesus into a self-help guru. The lines we often give sound something like, “Come follow Jesus and he will make your life better. You will be better with your money, you’ll be a better spouse, you’ll be a better parent, you’ll get a better job, perhaps a raise, and life will be really good!” Now don’t get me wrong, I think when we follow Christ and allow his image to be formed within us, we are “better” at life, but not by the world’s standards.
So I hear us (myself included) often tempted to preach this way and portray this message to the world, and then I read the words of Jesus when he says “Come, follow me. Deny yourself, take up your cross. Come, lose your life.” In other words, as Randy Harris said this past week at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, “Come and be a loser!” How’s that for church marketing?
In the Philippians 2 Christ hymn, we see the Son of God lowers himself line after line until ultimately he has reached death, even death on a cross. Then when we get to that point, we see that God begins to raise him until finally he is that name to which every knee should bow and every tongue confess. Jesus lost, rather he gave it all and there gained it all. The world and the principalities, and Rome and the Jewish elite thought they had lowered him as low as one could go when they hung him on a cross, but in a turn of events we see that God used this very act as the one to defeat the powers of darkness. As Paul noted in 1 Corinthians, if they had known what they were doing when they crucified Christ, they surely would not have done it.
So, those of you like me today who can say, “I ain’t as good as I once was”, I say welcome to the club. Rather than trying to grab a hold of this life and hang on so tightly, join me in following Christ. Come and be a loser. Be poured out like a drink offering in the name of Christ for the sake of your neighbor. Go ahead and release what will one day all be stripped away when we find ourselves in the presence of a loving God. Surrender your life for the sake of Christ, and there find it.
Sure, that sounds like a big task, but I am reminded that the kingdom of God often comes in small ways. So maybe today that means we just start submitting our way to another. Maybe don’t feel like you have to pick the restaurant at lunch. Maybe don’t feel like you have to talk so much and try listening to someone. Maybe give up your favorite TV show and let your wife watch hers. And maybe by learning to lose in these small things we will ultimately learn what it means to lose our entire lives for the sake of Christ.
Now, I need to go take some Advil…