Despise This Instead
“Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Jesus Christ| John 12:25 (NLT)
Jesus said many things that upset the Pharisees, but I’ve had little trouble accepting most things he said, but not this is one. Do I despise my life? Despise is such a strong word! How could I despise my life when there is so much good in it? Imagine a beautiful sunset at the beach with your loved one? Or an exhilarating hike to a mountain lake? Eating a delicious meal in Tuscany? Holding a new baby? I could go on and on… Who doesn’t want to be happy…now? Who doesn’t want things to go well…now?
“…Jesus, despise seems to be too strong a word.”
Certainly, I despise many things in this life. Violence, hatred, rampant addictions, aging, poverty and COVID 19! Another seemingly endless list. Why didn’t Jesus just say, “Those who despise some things in their life in this world will keep it for eternal life”? Or perhaps some sort of “the good outweighs the bad” type thing?
“…Jesus, despising only some things in my life would be much easier to accept.”
What’s puzzling is that it’s not like Jesus was no fun. He seemed to have a lot of fun while here on Earth! Imagine the grin on his face when, standing on the beach after his resurrection, he calls out to Peter and the other disciples, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” (These veterans had been totally skunked after fishing all night.) “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” They caught so many fish the boat almost sank. Hilarious! (John 21:4-6) And it’s not like Jesus didn’t love, either. Think of Lazarus, Mary and Martha; the Bible says he loved them!
“…Jesus, if it’s OK to have fun and good to love, why would I despise my life in this world?”
Jesus said these things when his crucifixion was eminent. He had just told his disciples that a kernel of wheat must be planted and die to fulfill its purpose of producing a large harvest. His death was the very reason he came to Earth. He was to die to save many lives, but he struggled with this:
“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!”
Jesus Christ| John 12:27 (NLT)
Why was his soul so troubled when facing death if life in this world was to be despised? Later, at Gethsemane, he prays “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Jesus Christ| Matthew 26:39 (NLT) It’s as if he didn’t want to leave.
“…Jesus if you didn’t want to leave this world, why should I despise my life here?”
As usual, the Holy Spirit enlightened me as I looked closer.
“All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them.” Jesus Christ| John 12:26 (NLT)
Jesus said, “…my servants must be where I am.” He didn’t want to leave because he didn’t want to be apart from the Father and his disciples – us! He despises separation from us and we should despise it too.
“…Jesus, I get it now. I must despise being anywhere you are not.”
The good news is indeed good news. We can be with Jesus while we are in the world because he gifted us with his Spirit, who fills us and connects us to Jesus in Heaven.
15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
Jesus Christ| John 14:15-21 (NLT)
Our connection with Christ trumps all. We can be in the world, with all of its good and despicable elements, and with him at the same time. Thank God! When we are joined with Jesus, the world looks much different – either connected and disconnected. As the good lifts up from the ashes, we see Jesus in it. Connected! The bad causes us tremendous grief because we see that Jesus is not in it. If only Jesus was welcomed there…disconnected!
Jesus teaches us that intimacy with him is most important, how else could we thrive in the midst of both good and bad while we’re here on Earth? How terrible for those still separated from Jesus who have to navigate this world without him. If they only welcomed Jesus!
“…Jesus, I’ll despise separation from you.”
Jesus sought to eliminate separation between himself and us…he despised this separation. He died so we could restore connection with him. Your ability to bear kingdom fruit (eliminate separation) hinges on how vibrant your relationship with Jesus is. The centerpiece of our Reach New Peaks Guided Workshop is refreshing and deepening your relationship with Christ. How can you live out the fulfilling Adventure God Made You For without walking intimately with him? Let’s talk.
Go to www.bobblackcoaching.com to schedule a free consultation.