Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Life - Use It or Lose It

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.    ~Jesus

Last Sunday I gave a sermon on the wealthy man who came to Jesus asking, "What must I do to have eternal life."  And Jesus tells him that knowing and keeping the commandments (being a good religious person) is not enough. The man must also "sell everything he owns and give it to the poor."  Jesus then goes on to say to his disciples that giving up one's possessions is the path to true riches, i.e. eternal life.

For most of us this sounds pretty drastic and even harsh.  However, looking at a couple of Greek words used in this passage opens the story up so we can reimagine it and appropriate it.

The word for life used by both the wealthy man and Jesus is "zoe" (pronounced dzo-ay') and it means vital, animated, full, vigorous life.  The man is not talking about life after death or going to heaven. He wants to know how to live fully and authentically here and now.  Most of us can resonate with that!

But what Jesus tells him, to give up all of his stuff, disturbs us just as much as it does the wealthy man.

Perhaps a better way to understand this is to harken back to Jesus' words quoted above which he says to potential disciples earlier in the story.  When he talks about losing and gaining life, Jesus uses the word "psuche" (pronounced psoo-khay') which means the breath of life, the seat of feelings, desires, affections, and aversions, or the soul.

Now, what if eternal, full, authenic life is found by letting go of our souls?

This all brings me around to something I heard on a podcast recently.  Author Todd Henry in talking about his book "Die Empty" shared a story from a group he was in where the quesiton "What is the most valuable real estate?" was asked.  The answer turned out to be - a cemetery - because this is where an endless wealth of hopes, dreams, ambitions, ideas, and inspirations lay unlived. Henry then goes on to say that we should strive to live out as much of our life (our "psuche") as possible in order to experience optimal life (our "zoe").

So, it looks like life is a whole lot like vacation time - use or lose it!  Or, we could echo Jesus and say, "Lose it and gain it!"  

Why not go out and give up some of your soul to somebody or something today?


1 comment:

  1. A welcome message for me today, and I am sure for others as well. Thanks for giving new meaning to a familiar verse. I just started reading the book "The Phoenix Affirmations" this morning and some key issues are coming into focus from your writings, past sermons, and this book.