Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 16:23-24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.’


How could we ever know? The life that I think is mine is not.

We know--or think we know--who and what we are. We see what we look like, the face in the mirror, also what we own, objects that are important to us. We can name the people who are significant in our lives. We can list many of our good traits, strengths and successes, and we likely can produce a longer list of our frailties and failures.

We identify ourselves with all these things in one way or another. We are tall or short, a good athlete or uncoordinated, smart or slow on the uptake, successful in our work or struggling to get by. All these things and others we might mention tell us who we are.

So we hold onto these identifications, protecting them like a child fiercely clutching his favorite toy. We feel diminished when we lose any or all of those things which we identify, whether our belongings, our job, our health, our friends, our status or reputations.

This is a lie, Jesus says. Worse, it is the way of death, of never knowing who you really are, of failing to find the beauty of God’s life that seeks to shine in you.

We find our life by releasing those things we grasp to which we cling to give ourselves meaning and substance. Jesus invites us to another way, a way of caring for what we are and have but without all the grasping. We are not to identify with what we have or have accomplished, nor shall we identify ourselves with our failures or faults. These are not our identity, our life.

Our life lies hidden in his immeasurable love around and in us. Resting in that love, feeling its nudging within us, a bud of life pushing through the hard crust of anxious ego, we find our life, our joy, our beauty. No, we find the beauty of God’s life within us, struggling to emerge into the light of day through the flesh and blood of our lives.

Little wonder that some of the greatest beauty we ever see is in the lives of those who are dieing. Some of them cease identifying with what they own or have done and a greater beauty and love appears in them. They become more transparent to the true life within them.

In losing what we think we are, what we identify with, we find life that truly is life. Jesus, pry open our hands that we might stop clutching what we think we are and rest, finally, in the love that surrounds us and lies dormant within our souls.

Pr. David L. Miller

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