Sometimes in my daily reading, I catch myself wanting to be sure that I’m “going deep.” I want to find those big and hidden truths that make me feel like I’ve really spiritually gotten somewhere. I want to feel smart. I want to feel like I have discovered something.
But, if I am really going to be a faithful reader of Scripture and a wise believer, I have to learn to let the simple truths of Scripture, especially the ones that God clearly has made prominent, stand out to me. I must not let the quest for depth cause me to miss the incredible significance of the simple and yet eternal points of the text. And one of those hit me as I was reading through Luke 9.
Luke 9:23-25 – 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Jesus calls on those who would follow him to do so with a cross. Following Jesus has never promised to be an easy life. Jesus repeatedly tells believers that this is a hard path, a road through suffering and death to glory. Jesus promised his followers persecutions, hardships, betrayals, and eternal life.
But, the big point, the big truth behind it all for me this reading was the simple, obvious, we’ve-seen-it-a-thousand-times-question: For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? This is a pretty binary, on or off, kind of question. Where do you want your life to be? Do you want to fight for comfort and ease in the here and now, or do you want life that lasts forever? Do you want a moment of peace with an eternity of pain? Or can you handle a moment of pain with an eternity of joy to follow?
Like I said, that is so obvious. But, it is also the actual point of the Savior. He wants us to think like this. He wants us to realize that our lives are either about this temporary life or the eternity to come.
How differently does this all make us think about our present circumstances? We are not made to try to get the most out of this short, shallow, sin-filled life. That does not mean that life here is irrelevant. It does not mean that we are not allowed great pleasures and tremendous joys. What it means is that, if you make this world during this lifetime your focus, you will miss the point. We are created for eternity.
Also, recognize that you will exist eternally no matter what choices you make. However, your eternal condition is determined by whether or not you are under the grace of God. If you want life and peace forever, you must be reconciled to God. We have rebelled against our Creator, and we must be forgiven and made clean before him or we will face his eternal wrath. The way to be cleansed and forgiven is to trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus and to turn your life over to him. Jesus has perfection to cleanse us and he made himself a sacrifice to forgive us. He is our only hope.
Following Jesus contains joys. But following Jesus can also lead us through hardships in a godless world. But, in the end, following Jesus is about our eternal lives. We want to be forgiven. We want the grace of God. We want eternal joy. And that is found in Jesus, not in the petty pleasures this world has to offer.