Lost Life for Jesus’ Sake - Matthew 16:21–28
What are you willing to give up for the sake of a loved one? In a world that is so fixated on the individual, the notion of sacrifice seems remote and obscure. It still exists, but the onus is on another letting go and sacrificing their selves for the sake of the individual. It seems strange, but individuals won’t sacrifice their own selves for another. My personal rights, opinions, values, lifestyle, goals etc. are the most precious thing in the world, and the world is expected to give all away so I can have these things, while I refuse to give anything away for the sake of another.
This trend doesn’t just exist within the world in which we live. It exists in the church as well. We demand that the church functions according to my own needs, to my own personal likes or preferences. So we have wars over worship styles, over various programs we think we must have, over the dressage of the church, or whether we should have flowers on the altar or not. We become no better than the Pharisees and the Scribes, who insist the church functions according to my personal desires.
In response to Peter’s great confession of Jesus being the Christ, Jesus begins to explain that his journey will be toward the death and resurrection event of Easter. But Peter rebukes Jesus, claiming that this is not right, he must not follow such a course. Peter is cut to the heart by Jesus ‘words, “get behind me Satan – you’re more concerned with human things than God’s intent!” The path He must follow for the sake of us all, is the same path a disciple needs to follow for the sake of the Gospel being known not just personally, but for all the world.
We live in a world that demands so much from us, and gives so little in return. We play a balancing act between the almost limitless opportunities presented to us, and place our faith and church within that multiplicity of activity. But here’s the thing, sport, hobbies, work, social activities, personal time, family time, and all the other demands do not offer a lived out relationship with God. It doesn’t mean we can’t do these things, but we need to sort through our priorities, and realise that in sacrificing these things for the sake of growth in the Gospel, we actually gain them and benefit more from them, not just personally but for the sake of those we share these things with.
It is a tough call to sacrifice our lives and the things we think are important in them, for the sake of the Gospel. We find it hard to give them away, for much of what they offer is addictive and demanding. Yet only when we are willing to sacrifice ourselves, as Jesus sacrificed himself, can we discover a truly meaningful and fulfilled life. But we do this, not for our sake, but for the sake of those around us, the ones we love, and share life with. In our willingness to sacrifice all for the sake of the Gospel, we become agents of change in a world that is fixated on the individual.