Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.”
[John 12: 23–26]
These words are very challenging: those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their life will have it for eternity. It seems like a twisted kind of punishment. It is certainly not cheerful, or good for self confidence – and it certainly won’t convince others of a God of love, especially when the world is already so dark a place.
Yet take a moment to think about what Jesus is saying. If you love your life in this world – will you give up something for someone in need? Will you put yourself at risk to help a stranger? Will you take the gospel to those who are different to you?
Jesus isn’t saying we can’t enjoy life, but that it shouldn’t be as important to us as loving a neighbour, bringing comfort to others, sharing the good news. If we love our life, our goals are worldly goals – we want more money, more time, more possessions. If we enjoy life but realise that Jesus is more important, we will follow where God leads us without worrying about any sacrifices we may need to make. It’s not an easy message, but it is what it means to follow Christ.
Many hymns speak of this way of life: ‘Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee’, by Frances Havergal, for example, asks God to use our lives to God’s glory not our own.
We thank you for the many blessings and gifts in our lives.
We thank you that you are always with us.
Help us to remember not to hold on to worldly things
If they jeopardise heavenly things.
Help us to remember to love others,
To care for them,
To share the good news
Without counting the cost.
Give us the strength and courage to follow you.