My grandson is fascinated with what my life was like when I was growing up. He thinks about this a lot, and he has a million questions about my childhood. He wants to know things like what my favorite Marvel movie was when I was a child, or did we have cars. (Geeze kid, I’m not THAT old!!) Recently he asked me, “Nana, what do you miss the most about being a kid?” I quickly responded, “My metabolism.” Gone are the days when I could eat anything I wanted and not carry it around with me for the rest of my life!
Who among us has not gained and lost weight over the years? Did you ever wonder what that the total poundage in each category would be? Speaking for myself, the numbers fluctuate daily. And as I’ve aged, I have had to accept that the ideal weight of my youth is not a realistic or attainable goal anymore. I have had to accept a new plateau. (Somehow that makes it sound better, right? “Plateau.” If you throw a little French accent on it, it almost sounds delicious.) In our younger years, it seems as though a few weeks of self-denial is all that it would take to get things back on track. Not so in the latter years. It’s the battle of the bulge, and the bulge is winning.
Jesus had an interesting conundrum to present to his disciples. It was also a matter of gain verses loss. But in this case, a few instances of self-denial would not be enough to turn things around. He was asking them for a life of a total abandonment of self:
Matthew 10 (Common English Bible)
39 Those who find their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives because of me will find them.
Matthew 16 (Common English Bible)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.
When Jesus stated that coming with him not only meant saying “no” to themselves, but also taking up their own cross, he wasn’t playin’. The disciples would have instantly recognized what that meant. The cross was an instrument of torture. It was a place of humiliation. It was an invitation to join Jesus on death row.
25 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. 26 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives?
But oh, the benefits of that choice! The reward for total self-emptying is the fullness of grace. The plateau that we reach when we take up our crosses and follow Jesus is a place of eternal life that is filled with joy, devoid of pain, and there is not a weight scale in sight. Heaven has no calories, hallelujah! Tacos, here I come.
We are invited to this same promise. Following Jesus means walking away from our sinful selves and walking toward a Savior who leads by example. This life is filled with service to others, obedience, compassion, kindness, worship, prayer, imitating the mind of Christ, and loving as he loves.
Want to come along? You have everything to gain.