But…cultivate a life of beauty. That is the goal. I’m running around trying to be someone I’m not, trying to win some prize, some approval. But, What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? I’m losing the real me. Seriously, What could you ever trade your soul for? So, I’m not sure how things will turn out over the next few months. But I mean it when I say I’m tired of ugly. My goal is to follow Jesus, whatever that means, wherever that leads. To cultivate a life of beauty, to be an authentic expression of Jesus, to be a fully developing follower. To be one who brings beauty to the world, not one who spreads the ugliness. Because I’m tired of ugly.
Don’t run from suffering, embrace it. God very often uses suffering as a necessary aspect of forming into the kinds of people that we need to be. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? Let’s talk about the real you for a moment. The real you is calm. The real you is content. The real you actually is wise. The real you is not afraid. You may not even be aware that that person is there, but this is the person who was created in the image and likeness of God. That real you has been through a lot, and often (almost always) is buried under a pile of rubble. But there is a person in you who is calm, believe it or not, and this person is content. There is a person in you that is both wise and unafraid, but you are constantly, for most of your life, contending with a you that’s not really you, a false self. A person that you have been distorted into that is not really you at all. This is the part of you that is agitated, that’s always grasping and never has enough. This is the part of you that is foolish, and most of all, afraid.
The good news is, that isn’t really you. That’s a false you. That’s not who you really are. Now, we can live out that, our false selves. Most of us do most of our lives. We can live out of that self that is constantly agitated and grasping, foolish and afraid, or with the help of Jesus, you can become yourself. You can find the real, true you that is calm, content, wise, and unafraid. This is what Jesus means when he speaks of gaining the world and losing your soul. When he talks about losing your soul, he’s not talking about you losing a part of you. He’s talking about you losing you. This is so important. Jesus is not so much trying to save your status. Oh, they moved their status from unsaved to saved…no, he’s not trying to save your status. He’s not trying to save your destiny, where you go when you die. He’s trying to save you. Get this – if you are saved, then where you go when you die will be just fine. Jesus is not trying to save so much your status or your destiny, which is the way we usually think about it (because that way we can leave ourselves alone). Jesus says I’m not so much interested in saving your status or your destiny, I WANT TO SAVE YOU! I want to bring out the real you, the true you.
But the problem is we live in a society, in a culture, in a world, in a Babylon, that is constantly forming us to be people who are agitated, grasping, foolish, afraid, and dare I say ugly. And Jesus says Come with me and I’ll save you. You won’t be that way.
What are we doing in America? We’re trying to gain the world. We want our slice of the pie. But I’ll tell you about that pie – if you get a big slice of the pie, you’ll want half the pie. And if you get half the pie, you’ll want 2/3 of the pie, and if you get 2/3 of the pie, you’ll just want the whole stinking pie. Because that’s the part of you that’s agitated, never calm, grasping, and never has enough. Foolish – yes foolish. Because, when we can fill our barns to overflowing, and what do we do?? “…‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.” Luke 12:18 NLT. Jesus speaks of the foolishness of it all. ““But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’” Luke 12:20 NLT. FOOLISH. That’s part of you that’s foolish, the part that’s ugly, the part that’s afraid, mostly because you’re afraid there’s never going to be enough. Because you live in a world where there is not a God of infinite provision. You live out of your false self, and Jesus knows you’ve been formed by that and it’s made life intolerable for you. It’s made life already a kind of interior hell. Jesus says I want to save you from all of that.
“Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Mark 8:34-37 MSG.