Come With Me If You Want to Live
Matthew 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Here, Jesus articulates the great paradox of the Christian faith. If I pursue myself to find life, I will fail. It is only when I forfeit self to pursue God, that I truly live. This is not just some far off promise of life after death, though it is that too. This is a promise of God in me now. This is leaving behind destruction and embracing life.
I used to think following God was like going on an eternal diet. I thought it meant that I would never be able to do all the fun things I wanted and that I would be miserable for life. This is my lot to bear. I will just have to accept my misery now so I can go to heaven later.
Christ dispelled this myth, reminding us of the anxiety and misery we caused in the pursuit of self. This may be where addicts are actually more fortunate than normals. We know all too well the destruction we achieve when we pursue self. We do not see it as foolish to give up the old misery to pursue life in God.
Many will insist that life is only found in following my heart, pursuing my dreams and living life to the fullest. Jesus says that following my own desires will lead, in the end, to an empty existence. It is only in losing myself in pursuit of him that I find true joy, meaning and purpose. This does not mean that I need to live like a monk. It means that if I want to truly know life as I was created to, I need to put God above all.
The reality is, it is no longer my life to give. When I come to Christ, my life is his. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19,20). If I want to know God and I want life now, this is not optional. This is how it works.
It would be great if it was only my addiction that I had to surrender. I would not find it a difficult thing today to relinquish just that one defect. This self-sacrifice though, is a daily practice. As I am still living in this defective flesh, I have many destructive defects. So, I must continually leave self to follow God. This is what it means to follow Christ and if I am not doing it, then I am not following him.
What does this look like? Does it mean I must give up my dream of sky-diving because God wants me to feed the poor? No, I need not be so dramatic. It means that I start every day, not by pursuing self, but by pursuing God. I need to begin every day by reading, praying and listening to God.
I still fail and I still pursue the defects of my flesh. There is always mercy and forgiveness when I do. It is mine however, to be honest about it. When I recognize a destructive defect, I need to be willing to do whatever it takes to leave it. If I am struggling with pride, anger, anxiety, pornography, or some other defect, I do whatever it takes to leave it behind and turn to God. I cannot pursue both my life and the life God wants for me. It is only in surrendering my old life that God plants in me the new one.