“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”—Luke 9:24-25 (NLT).
Some people might be surprised to learn the world does not revolve around them. What? You mean it doesn’t!
As infants, we sure thought it did. We cried and someone tended to our needs. We got fed. Our diapers got changed. We were picked up and rocked to sleep. In my case, the rocking chair didn’t work for my eldest, so I had to dance him to sleep. I’ve known other parents who had to place their infant in a car seat and drive him repeatedly around the block until he dozed off.
However, some never outgrow this demanding behavior. If I whine enough, people will do what I want. If I stomp my foot, they’ll jump. If I pucker up, ready to burst into tears, they’ll do anything to keep me happy.
“We shine most brightly when we give ourselves away.”
Guess what! That’s not what God wants from His children. If we hang onto our lives, always seeking to please ourselves, we’ll never grow up.
In his book “It’s Not About Me,” Max Lucado writes, “When God looks at the center of the universe, he doesn’t look at you. When heaven’s stagehands direct the spotlight toward the star of the show, I need no sunglasses. No light falls on me. Lesser orbs, that’s us. Appreciated. Valued. Loved dearly. But central? Essential? Pivotal? Nope. Sorry.
“Perhaps our place is not at the center of the universe,” he adds. “As John Piper writes, ‘God does not exist to make much of us. We exist to make much of him.’”
So, how can we make much of God? Max writes, “What would happen if we accepted our place as Son reflectors?”
In a recent sermon series titled “Rise and Shine,” our pastor said, “We shine most brightly when we give ourselves away.”
In this particular sermon, Pastor Ray cited the answers of several church members who replied to his question, “Why do you do what you do?”
One 17-year-old who volunteers as a youth small group leader said, “I love being able to minister to others. I don’t need to be paid to find great satisfaction in serving.”
Another church member, a young adult who plays the guitar in the Praise band said, “When I help other people connect with God, I feel complete.”
Showing up for practice one evening, another worship band guitarist replied to Pastor Ray’s question. He said, “It’s for the kingdom. I get weary but there’s something inside—a light that keeps me going.”
It’s that light—God’s light—that keeps another church member traveling to third-world countries to make a difference. “For me, this whole crazy world makes sense when I serve. It puts things in perspective for me.”
Another way to look at Luke 9:24-25 might be, “Less of what I want” and more of “What do you suppose God wants?”