Oh My Soul

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:35-37

I wish to save my life.  This is how I try to do it:  staying in bed as long as possible, climbing under my covers whenever possible (which isn’t enough), turning on a beloved television show into which I can similarly lie down and be off duty, keeping my door shut and windows covered (neighbors come to our front daily if not multiple times a day), leaving my phone out of ear shot, enjoying an unneeded second glass of wine and sometimes even a third, and so on.  There are more dramatic ways to try and preserve one’s life, of course.  We all have our various untouchables in different seasons of life – children’s schooling, dietary must haves, fashion or decorating demands, career idolatry and the options are limitless.  And what do these things ultimately profit the Beloved of God?

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,  even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  John 10:14-15

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  1 John 3:16

Why am I thinking about all this today?  My kids bikes were stolen off our front porch in the night.  Though not altogether shocking, it still hurts.  It feels violating, particularly since our front porch requires a person to come between our car and house and rather into than just casually grab something off of it.  It also stings because we’ve been involved with many more neighbors in the past two weeks who themselves could all be suspects.  I hate that last bit the most.

But then going further back to the day which preceded the bike theft night, we had some hard hitting time with Randy Nabors from New City church in Chattanooga, a rare church that has achieved true community between classes, races, socioeconomic groups and cultures.  We have much to learn from them and they weren’t soft about confirming how much we have to learn.   I think we’ve been hoping to “intentionally neighbor” or “minister to the poor” or get down and dirty in the catacombs of race and class without making anyone feel badly for not joining us and even, in an effort to avoid “ministry to the poor righteousness”, practically being apologetic that we have put our money (and bikes) where our mouth is.

Jesus never shamed His beloved, but He also never apologized for His very clear mission and His call for His people to follow Him.  Jesus never said that by laying down our lives we would be saved, it was and is always His life that provides that.  But He has also very clearly called us to join Him in giving up what we cannot save to gain what we cannot lose.  Its an invitation to join Him in glorious, life-giving and life-transforming labor!

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;  and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”  Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.  Matthew 4:8-11

The Father already possessed “all these thing” and Jesus, the heir of all that belongs to the Father, doesn’t need Satan to give them to Him.  Likewise, it is God who rests my soul, not television or my very comfortable bed or a bottle of wine or a hidey hole away from all the needs and demands of people.  I’d like to stop apologizing for this very Good News or feeling silly for the minuscule belief I possess and faint faith that His Kingdom is in fact more glorious than any substitute I want to settle for here.  We’ve lost some bikes, and car windows, a wallet and a couple of i pods since moving  among a greater concentration of poor and socially disenfranchised people.  But my soul is alive.  And the power and truth of His Gospel is more alive to me because of the wounds and the loss.  As I share in His suffering, I do in fact share in His life and resurrection – over and over and over.

 The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

[Chorus]
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

– Matt Redmon, 10,000 Reasons