A couple of weeks ago we went to the Texas High School Rodeo Championships. My parents were nice enough to go early to save us front row seats so Samantha could have a close up view of all the beautiful horses. The first event was the bareback bronc riding. Now this wasn't my first rodeo, but it's quite different when you're up close & personal. A couple of times the horses came right up to the wall within a few feet of us. The look of fear on those boys' faces was saying, "I realize I could die any second." Unforgettable. One cowboy was bucked so hard that he came down with only one boot on. It was so violent that my neck started hurting just watching them get thrown around like a rag doll. Which is generally what happens when you jump on the back of a 1,500 lb wild animal that desperately does not want to be touched. That's called being willing to lose your life.
Sitting next to me at the rodeo was a Vietnam veteran. After I thanked him for his service for keeping my family & me free, he told me of some his adventures in war. He said that he'd been shot 15 times in one battle. When the helicopter picked him up they told him he had less than 1 pint of blood in his body. He was pronounced dead 4 different times! That's called being willing to lose your life.
Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it."
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate ... their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple."
Deny yourself, lose your life, hate your life? Strong words. Jesus wouldn't make a very good elementary school counselor trying to get kids to have good self esteem. There's a lie out there that says the best idea is to follow your own interests & inner desires. When Jesus says to lose your life, he's not talking about a bronc rider or soldier. He wants you to hate the life you had without him in it, so you'll do whatever it takes to lose that life. Then you can live the life that God created you to live.
All of us have a life to lose. If it's not drugs, alcohol, stealing or adultery, it's pride, prejudice, selfishness, cowardice or comfort. Let's get on with losing our life.