July 2, 2017
Rev. Michael Trask
39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Many ways to describe the feeling: It can be described as a feeling of emptiness, pointlessness, lack of fulfillment, lack of satisfaction, lack of meaning, lack of purpose, treading water, and so on.
Many ways to describe the feeling, and many willing advisors to tell you how to get past it. Most of the time they say “You gotta find yourself!” Just a quick search of the internet and I found page after page suggesting how one might find himself. The Huffington post, published an article last June entitled “7 tips to find yourself when you are feeling lost.” Which yields some rather fascinating suggestions. Some of them are alright. They encourage you to try new things, and talk to your friends, not bad suggestions. New experiences can help you to reevaluate your life, and true friends are ready to tell you where to get off and where to get on.
But one of the suggestions made by the article set me to laughter. “Remember what you love to do, and go do it!” Well, what If I love to live in my mother’s, basement, eat nachos and play video games all day every day?” Doing what you really want to do, is not always the correct path to finding yourself; sometimes its a way to get even more lost.
Another tip that caught my eye was “Remember, you have the power to be, to have and do anything you desire!” Really! You mean, I a 57 year old balding man. can be Miss America if I desire it?” Bet you can’t wait for the swimsuit competition. This too is not a very good suggestion, since it it depends on the the audacious notion that a person, a mere human being can alter reality itself by merely having a desire. Some might say, They didn’t really mean it like that, then why did they write it like that? It said “Remember, you have the power to be, to have and to do, anything you desire.”
Advice to overcome the feeling lost is plentiful and constant and everywhere in culture. Sometimes it’s referred to as “Finding yourself,” other times it’s called “grounding yourself”, and still other times its referred to as “Finding your Center” which of course is said to be within yourself.
But all of the advice, invariable points in one direction, into you. Get deeper and deeper into yourself and you will find the answer. But you know, as each person concocts their own version of reality, they then expect all the people around them to fall in line. People don’t do that of course. Then comes the rage, the anger, and the protestations. In our day, great armies of whining, angry, self-centered people have now arisen; incapable of seeing any other reality besides that which the have conceived in their own minds. Obviously, looking into yourself in order to find yourself is not the answer. Makes you more distant from everyone else actually. We need something different, something radically different. We’ve tried this method over and over again in many different forms, and it only makes us self-centered and delusional.
We have something different in Christ Jesus. In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus comes at this problem of the lost man in a very different way. He says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it. and whoever looses his life, for my sake will find it.” Jesus turns the collective wisdom of the earth that we’ve been hearing all of our lives, on it’s ear! He says the exact opposite of what those who came before him and those who came after him have said. And what he says is so very very counterintuitive. If you try to find your life you’re going to lose it? If you loose your life you’re going to find it? it doesn’t make sense.
It does however make sense when you view it in the broader context of Jesus. What did he come to do? He was sent and anointed and charged by the father to deal with lostness of mankind. Man is lost because of his Sin. God has been very clear in all of scripture concerning the problem of sin.
•To Cain, who was seething with Envy over Abel, God warned him about sin. HE said “sin is crouching at your door, it desires you, you must master it. (Genesis 4:7)
•In the psalms, David explains that he was born sinful when he says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful form the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)
•In Romans God’s Apostle reveals that all humans are like David and are born sinful. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (3:23)
•IN Roman's again, the Apostle explains where sin ultimately leads when he says “The wages of sin is death”
•And finally, Jesus himself describes what’s at the center of every human being when he says “For out of the heart (where the world directs us to look) come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander…”
Is it any wonder, than when you look at your own heart for answers, it doesn’t really help that much? Because at the center of every human being is sin. So if you’re going to follow the suggestions of the world, turn inwardly, and consult your heart in order to find yourself, you actually going to find more sin. Sin brings death. That’s why Jesus said “Whoever finds his life will lose it.” IF you make yourself the focus and if put your hopes for the future in yourself, you will be severely disappointed, because you do not have what it takes to be trusted completely. You are mortal and sinful.
Jesus came to help us change the center of our hopes, Instead of looking ourselves, which is a fool’s errand, he would shift us away from ourselves and towards him. When he went up that little hill just outside of Jerusalem to die on a cross, it wasn’t some random, horrible mistake. He was going there to deal with our heart problem, going there deal with what was wrong in the center of man and what makes him lost.
Isaiah, the ancient prophet of old would say “He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by his wounds we are healed.” For salvation, for renewal and for finding ourselves we must turn to him, to Jesus. ”
Paul says in Galatians, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their sinful nature with it’s passions and desires.” The sinful nature is put down, new men and women arise. This is why Jesus said “Whoever loses his life, for my sake will find it” We must set aside any notion that we are the center of universe, we must give that up, we must send it to the cross where it must die! And here’s the cool part, once we lose that life, we find real life; life as it is meant to be along side our creator
What’s that like? Life as it is meant to be. It’s learning to bloom where you’re planted. It’s finding joy and contentment in the people that God has given you to love. It’s finding joy and contentment in your home, your house, in a passing shower of rain and the rising of the morning sun. Joy and meaning in simply doing your duties in whatever profession you might be. When a heart is so cleansed by Christ, the sinful striving and anger and envy and revenge and all that crud that lives in our hearts is expunged and we are refreshed. Gone is the a capricious heart that demands it’s presumed needs be met by those around him. In Christ, you become a child of God, a creature of a the blessed creator living in his grace who learns to act in truth and out of love. You have been made eternal in his son, you begin to think eternally. When you see just how big our eternal God is, and how loving he is, all those things that used to bother and torment you and cause you to feel lost are minimized. For you, by the grace of God, have found yourself in ChristJesus. AMEN