Gaining the World, Losing Our Soul

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26

Attempting to gain the things of this world leads us into a pace of life that does violence to our souls. In a society that constantly tells us we are not enough, Jesus calls us into a better way of living: prioritizing his values, denying ourselves daily, and following his path. This Sunday, special guest Rich Villodas shared on finding peace and grace today by holding close the words of God and stepping out in faith that he is better than life itself.

  • When Jesus asks questions, it is to help us see something about ourselves rather than to provide Jesus with information.
  • Right before our key scripture in Matthew 16:26, Jesus asks who the disciples think Jesus is—to which Peter replies that Jesus is the Messiah. 
  • When Jesus then says that he is going to the cross, Peter attempts to “correct” Jesus.
  • Right theology did not lead Peter to proper understanding.
  • On the heels of this, Jesus calls his followers to “Take up your cross and follow me” because this is the only version of Christianity that Jesus condones.
  • Following Jesus is not a Sunday thing but daily taking up your cross and following him.

What does it mean to gain the world?

  • Gaining the world means to order our lives around the priorities of our fallen world or culture.
  • This often looks like lusting for more and orienting our lives around comfort or ease.
  • The world tells us that if we have more money, more fame, more likes, more possessions we will be satisfied, but it’s never enough.
  • In 1889, Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story called, “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” in which the main character dies trying to get more and more land. In the end, he is buried in a very small plot of land. How often are we driven to gain what we cannot bring with us into eternity?
  • To follow Jesus, you’ll enter into discomfort. The way to true life is to die to some of the things we’ve grown accustomed to.
  • Across the book of Acts, the disciples are called out of their own comfort into greater purpose.
  • Practically this could look like crowing in vulnerability in community, generosity, forgiveness or justice.

What does it mean to gain the world?

  • When life is always about “the next thing,” this pace of life does violence against our souls.
  • Jesus calls us to abide. The word “abide” is so influential to our faith that it’s used 64 times in the book of John.
  • To abide is like leaving a tea bag in the hot water to steep, allowing the tea to grow stronger and stronger. 
  • But sometimes treat our faith casually, like dipping a tea bag in and out, popping in and out of church or being flippant with spiritual practices.
  • When we chase the world, we live under the lie that we are not enough.
  • In Christ, we are enough—not because of our money or accomplishments but because of his love.
  • At Jesus’ baptism, the Father affirmed Jesus before he stepped out to do anything in ministry.
  • We too can be affirmed that our worth is not in our performance, but rather we can rest in the Father’s love and value for us

Dinner Party Questions

  • How do you see the culture of lusting for more impact your discipleship to Jesus?
  • What worldly comforts do you find hardest to surrender to God? Is there an area of vulnerability, generosity, forgiveness, or justice that you’re being called into?
  • What does slowing down look like in your life? Does your pace of life allow you to stay in step with Jesus or abide?
  • Have you lived with the narrative that you are not enough? What does God say about your worth?

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