No one likes to lose. With the winter Olympics in full swing, our newsfeeds are full of stories about winners. You know as well as I do that our culture values winning—at times, above all else. Whether it’s “keeping up with the Joneses” or being at the top of indices, we value “winning”. We are awash in a culture obsessed with superiority. Problem for us Christians is that this is not our culture. It’s not the culture of Christ. As Henri Nouwen wrote so persuasively in his book on leadership, In the Name of Jesus: “The compassionate life is the life of downward mobility.” This is the way of Christ and we will hear it this Sunday, as Jesus says to his followers: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” It is the great irony of life (not just Christian living), that the deepest gifts of life, the most meaning and purpose we find is not found in ourselves and our own striving, but the ways we pour ourselves into the lives of others. Indeed, you and I, when we think of who has shaped our lives the most, we tend to name those closest to us: parents, teachers, friends, companions. Seldom do we name famous individuals or public figures. It is those whose lives are closely linked with ours—for better or for worse. How are you giving your life to others? When was the last time you felt the rub of this calling—and let’s be clear, it is both struggle and blessing to follow Christ and turn our lives away from ourselves. My, oh my, it is a challenge. It is cross-like. In a world that celebrates the celebrity, where upward mobility is the name of the game, Jesus enters in and turns things upside down. “No greater love has anyone but this: to lay down their life for their friends.” To pour out our lives for others is to lose our life, and in the great mystery of God’s love, to find it once more—a true gift. No one likes to lose; and yet, it is what we are called to as followers of Jesus. To become losers for the kingdom of God---what Paul calls, “fools for Christ’s sake”. No one wants to lose; but the promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that to lose is to gain, to give is to receive, to die is to live. This is God’s upside down love, which turns out to be the right way up.
See you Sunday,