Is It Worth It?
Mark 8:35 says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.”
We live in a world where losing something is not seen as a positive at all. In fact, quite the opposite is true. If we want to be something in this world we must strive to gain as much as we can – money, possessions, position, fame, authority. The world tells us that these things belong to those who will go out and take them for themselves. The ideas of self-gain, self-worth and self-preservation come completely natural to us.
How strange, then, to hear Jesus’ words here in the Gospel of Mark. “… whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” We don’t usually think this way. We tend towards doing everything we can to make sure all our ducks are in a row and that we can know what is coming next in life. And if we can gain a little extra along the way – great.
However, for those who are disciples of Jesus, he asks us to look at life differently; to think differently. Jesus calls his disciples to be willing to lay aside everything, even their very own life, for his call and to follow him. But it is not easy.
In Mark 10:17 – 22 we read this story, “And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
How unfortunate. Apparently, this young man had kept the law faithfully since he had been young. He had done everything right, yet when Jesus asked him to give up all his wealth and follow Jesus, he couldn’t do it. In that moment, his possessions meant more to him than the life he was asking Jesus about.
For this young man, this was too much. I would suggest that he hung everything on his possessions and the effort it took to acquire those things. When Jesus asked him to give all that up, he was unwilling. And even to this day, we could say that the same is true. We feel we have worked too hard, put in too much time and energy, and maybe even sacrificed something to get where we are. Giving it up just doesn’t seem worth it. But again, Jesus says this in Mark 8: 35, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.”
Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not we are willing to give our all to Jesus when he calls us to come follow him. How tightly do we hold on to the things we attain in this world and are we willing to let go of them and even give our entire life for Jesus, knowing that it will be worth it?
This article was originally published in The Recorder Vol