From the moment of our birth we work to draw attention to ourselves, our needs, our wants. As we grow we turn to acquiring stuff and people, tallying everything up like Linkedin connections.
We gather into metaphorical baskets all the life-prizes we can, whether intangible praises or the material things that clutter our closets, attics, and garages. We hold on to everything we can. The more the better!
Instead of nurturing inquiring minds, our life’s motto is “Acquiring what’s mine!”
But even Solomon, who possessed about as much as it was possible to possess, concluded that an acquiring life was vanity. In the end acquisition leads to emptiness.
When Christ broke into the world, He proclaimed a radically different message.
“You want to be my disciple? Then you must let go of father, mother, spouse, children, siblings, and even your own life! You must give up everything and everyone else! Take up your cross! Follow me, even though I have no place to lay my head!”
This does not make for a good marketing message, and our first response to such an extreme demand is, “What’s in it for me?”
With a wry grin, Jesus looks us in the heart and says simply, “How about eternal life. Does that sound good?”
Yes! Of course it does. But is it really necessary to let go of everything? This is the struggle.
Like the well-intentioned rich young ruler, we want to know the minimum we need to do to gain eternal life.
We are happy to abide by rules and regulations, more or less. Being good is our daily bread.
We even give away some of what we have to those who are less fortunate. Especially when it makes a good tax write-off.
But, this giving up of everything. Well, that just seems a bit much. Certainly, we hope and pray, this is Jesus using hyperbole. Employing figures of speech for effect. Exaggerating to make a point.
But here’s the rub: in laying out these qualifications of what it takes to be His disciple, Jesus is being very literal and serious.
Ironically, it’s only through trust and commitment that we learn how necessary these losses are and that we gain the clarity to see the real value of all we let go of.
Paul got it and proclaims, “Everything else is rubbish compared to gaining Christ!”
Jesus made it clear reminding us that only the treasures we store in heaven are safe from entropy. The way to gain He Who is essential and truly important is through the loss of all else we foolishly hold as necessary.
By His hand and will all things hold together, and in Him we live and move and have our being.
Which leads us to the one true thing. The only good choice, the only reasonable way of life is as His disciple. Letting go, giving up, and gaining what really matters.
And that is not a loss at all.
How hard is it for you to let go of things, stuff, habits, ideas, beliefs, people, places, hopes, dreams, plans, and more you know God wants you to let go of? After finally letting go, what was your experience? Were you able to mourn the loss and move on? Please feel free to share your insights in the comments!
This book is a good resource addressing the need for losses in our life: