Zechariah 12:10-11;13-1; Psalms 63:2-6,8-9; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24
"... anyone who loses his life for My sake, that man will save it"(Luke 9:24).
In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus once again gives His formula for a heart that will be full: "If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow Me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake, that man will save it" (Lk. 9:23-24).
It has been said that, following Jesus is like climbing a spiral staircase:
Sometimes it seems as though we are just circling around, getting nowhere. But then we notice that the circle is getting bigger and bigger and that our perspective is getting wider and wider. Our perspective is becoming less and less self-centered and more and more other-directed. We are being guided by an unseen hand that enriches and enhances our lives even in the midst of suffering and setbacks.1
We spend a goodly portion of our lives struggling to achieve some measure of security against life's ordinary and extraordinary risks, doing everything possible to "save" our life, in this sense. But try as we may, there is no evading the reality that to be alive is to face risks. Troubles will come to plague us. Sufferings will come to burden us. And death ultimately will overtake us.
Given this as the condition of life from which there is no escape, given the basic insecurity of life, given this image of ourselves as minute specks in a vast unknown, subject to the flicks of fate over which we have no control, by what power and authority do we resist the forces of spiritual destruction?
Again, we read in today's Gospel Lesson that in order to save our life, we must lose it. As Jesus' followers, we learn to "deny our very selves." That is to say, we look beyond ourselves for the meaning and purpose of life. The discovery of our true significance lies outside the pale of our feeble efforts to secure ourselves against the risks of suffering and death. By the power and authority of Jesus Christ, our true significance as human beings is revealed under the burden of the Cross. Which is not to say that we embrace suffering and bear up under life's burdens for their own sake. Suffering devoid of meaning reduces life to an absurdity. No, we Christians bear our burden for "Jesus' sake and the Gospel's," as today's text reminds us.
To bear the burden, to accept the risks, to reject the passing comfort of false security, to live as we are meant by God to live, we follow Jesus who carried His Cross purposefully.
We follow Jesus who teaches us that our lives are meaningful; that we are significant to an awesome degree.
We follow Jesus who teaches us that who we are and what we are to become are crucial elements for the fulfillment of His Father's purposeful design of creation.
This is the sense of significance Jesus exhorts us to hold onto even though we may be stripped bare of everything else.
The search for significance does not culminate in the achievement of fame or notoriety or power or wealth or prestige. You realize your significance when you embrace the Gospel truth that you have been designated by God to play a vital role in all that is going on; that without you there would be a void in creation that could not be otherwise filled; that no one can take your place in God's Plan; that a part of life would not be lived if you didn't live it......