There was a time in my life when I stood outside, looking in on the Christian way of life.
I was an onlooker.
Through the window I could see joy, deep joy, peace, freedom, authentic laughter and meaningful friendships. Christians were fascinating to watch.
But I was just that…a watcher. An outsider.
I thought that the Christian life was reserved for those who were good. People who made clean choices. People who didn’t cuss. Or drink Southern Comfort.
But as fascinated as I was with the Christian life, I was equally convinced that it was restrictive, dull, condemning and judgemental. And who wants to enter a room full of people looking down their noses?
These people will see right through me. They would have my number. There is no room for people like me. They wouldn’t understand me. No, it’s too risky. I’ll stay out here. Alcohol, sex, body image, envy, money –much safer. Out here, I don’t have to change. I am familiar with this side of the window.
Whoever loves his life loses it. – Jesus
Irony: By trying to gain acceptance from my peers, I was losing. By trying to gain affection from the opposite sex, I was losing. By trying to gain attention with my sexuality, I was losing.
Losing (apollymi)- to destroy. Render useless. Be lost.
I was destroying my own life. One day after useless day, I was loving a lost life.
Whoever hates his life in this world will keep it. – Jesus
Hate my life (miseō) meaning to love less. Postpone in love.
Love my life less and I will love it more.
Quite the paradox.
Overtime, I kept coming back to that window. Standing outside. Looking in.
And the more I stood there, the more clearly I could see my reflection. My tired face. My weary spirit. My emptiness.
My side of the glass was looking less and less appealing.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Jesus
I needed rest. My lifestyle wore me out. People pleasing is exhausting.
OK. On a trial basis, I will walk in. Just to see what is really going on in there. At this point what do I have to lose?
So I stood amongst them. The Christians. Waiting, with clinched fists and squinted eyes, for the stones to hit. Waiting on my lecture of why I don’t belong.
But instead, they opened my hands, and handed me stones. Stones of their own. One story after another of their struggles with money, sex, body image, lying, cheating, stealing, hatred, bitterness, envy, cussing and Southern Comfort.
Struggles. Present tense.
So. They aren’t perfect?
No. But they have hope. And rest.
They have Jesus.
Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25
Its seemed like a risk. Giving up all I knew, for this Jesus. This God who asks me to hate my life, so I can love Him more.
To love myself less, so I can love myself more.
For something that doesn’t make sense, that sure does make sense.
My trial run of Jesus, became a lifetime pursuit.
A pursuit of this God who died for sex, drugs and rockin’ roll.
A pursuit of this God who loved me, in spite of cussing and Southern Comfort.
A pursuit of this God who gives my weary soul rest. Who makes my tired eyes light.
A pursuit of this God who called me to hate my life – to love it less. So I may keep it.
Whatever we give up, He will replenish.
Whatever we lose, He will restore.
He is worth the risk.