Monday, October 06, 2008

Chairman of the Bored

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it (Luke 9:24).

Recently Marnie and I made some changes with regard to our insurance coverage. This involved a conversation with a representative of the insurance company in which we were asked a series of questions about our lifestyle. They wanted to know if I flew an airplane. They wanted to know how often I went skydiving. I assured the nice anonymous lady that I neither piloted an airplane, nor did I have any intention of jumping out of one.

I look back on that conversation with mild amusement, especially when I read the words of Jesus and think abut the upside down way of living to which Jesus calls us. The gist of my conversation with the insurance company was this: “I am a boring person. I don’t do risky foolish things. My life is ensconced in a large buffer of predictability and safety.” Insurance companies feel good about that kind of life.

But that’s not the kind of life Jesus calls us to. Jesus calls us to lose our lives, to give ourselves away. Life is diminished when we play it safe, hedge our bets, avoid the unfamiliar people and the unexplored places. That’s no way to live.

Jesus speaks directly to this right on the heels of Peter’s bold confession. Jesus had asked what people were saying about him, gauging the word on the streets. And then he got to the real question. What did his own close followers say about him? Who did they think he was?

Peter speaks up. “You are the Christ of God.” The anointed. The Messiah. Peter got it right; he goes to the head of the class. But once that has been said, Jesus begins to explain what it means. He uses words like suffering and cross. He says that life is to be spent and given away, not saved and guarded.

The story is telling us that we will never embrace the upside down ways of the Kingdom of God unless we know who Jesus is. Jesus is Lord. He is teacher and master. Jesus is our savior. He never intended to be chairman of the bored and the boring.

As you look at this day, where is the risk? Have you worked carefully to eliminate it? Most of us wake up every day thinking about how we can save our lives. We strive to maximize comfort and minimize pain; we seek to protect our property and the people we love; we aim to impress those who can help us move up in the world. Planning to lose life is upside down – but that’s life in the Kingdom.

Today is another chance for you to take a sanctified risk. It might be a decision you’re struggling with. It might be a conversation you need to have but have been putting off. It might be as simple as loving your neighbor by introducing yourself. Chances to give life away are found all the time in all kinds of places. So go ahead and lose yourself in the Kingdom – and find the life God intends for you to have.

Lord Jesus, I have been well trained in saving my life, guarding what I have and gathering what I want. Teach me what it means to lose life, to give it away, to risk myself in your service. And make me bold in the knowledge that you are Lord. You are mighty to save. You are worthy of my trust. Amen.

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