August 10, 2016 - Whoever Loves His Life Loses It.

Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.

John 12:25

We readily, and perhaps even reflexively accept that ‘loving life’ in this context means being too focused on the accumulation of wealth and stuff.  The happiness from these things does not last and often the things themselves don’t last.  We might also note that career advancement, beauty and fame don’t last either.  

But physical fitness also doesn’t last.  Memories don’t outlive us.  Neither does our education or efforts to achieve wisdom.  The effect of charity may persist for a while, but just as often as not, it also fades.

I don’t think Jesus is advising us to abandon acquisitive practical goals in favor of non-acquisitive practical goals.  The message is more radical than that. I think it is more likely that Jesus is stating the obvious fact that everything we do to achieve practical benefits is in vain, as Quoheleth states in Ecclesiastes.  

Christianity is not a moral code. Rather, it invites us to think existentially. It invites us to see ourselves as more than just what we can do for each other or for God.  It invites us to see God as more than just what He does for us.  The answer to the question, “what is faith for”, is, “nothing”. But faith still has extraordinary value.

To accept Jesus’ message requires more than acceptance of a different idea.  It requires a different way of seeing.  But, like the classic drawing of the duck head, once you see the rabbit head facing the other way you cannot un-see it.   Others can say angrily insist that you are self-deceived if you think you see something they don’t, but you know the truth.