“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
I love my life. I have a beautiful, godly, gifted wife who happens to also be an amazing mom. Together we have 4 children who succeed in all they do. They actually like each other and when our fourth came along 13 years after we thought we were finished, none of them resented him or the attention he receives, but each became a pretty darn good parent in their own right. We live in a safe and peaceful neighborhood in a spacious house with everything we need and more. Our families are supportive and loving and even love each other. We love our jobs, our church, our friends, and most of all each other. I love my life.
This makes this verse in John a hard one to swallow. Jesus is speaking to the tendency of His people toward comfort and self-indulgence. And truth be told, I don’t know anyone around me who does not fit that description in spades. To my discredit, I know few if any people who are chronically hungry, or oppressed, or fear for their life. I don’t know anyone who wants for anything, who is part of the second half of this verse: those who hate their life in this world. It is a difficult thing to ponder this verse in a land of prosperity.
Does God mean for us to purposely live lives that are hateful, not because we don’t have something we want but because we don’t have anything we need? Does Jesus call us to give all we have to the poor and come and follow Him? What would that look like in our context? What if that wasn’t just a call to that particular rich young man, or a metaphor for needing God, or any of the other misinterpretations we foist upon ourselves whenever we read a verse like this? What if Jesus really meant it? If so, I’m in a lot of trouble. How about you?