Losing our life
One of my favourite poets is R. S. Thomas, perhaps the greatest British poet of the last century. His poetry transports me to rural Wales and into his at times bleak world; into his struggle to make sense of that world and God's place in it. It invites me to see my own world very differently. At times I can feel the ground move under my feet as my world with all its rush and old priorities get tipped up.
Mark's gospel was written to work in the same way. We are invited into Jesus’ world and into his story. In doing so we are invited to join Mark's community having our world tipped up. Today's reading is one of those tippy places. Here in Jesus question to the disciples "who do people say I am?" and "who do you say I am?" we are invited out of our certainties. I suspect at our best we would be Peter, willing to profess faith in Jesus without any commitment to where that might lead.
David Ewart explores Jesus reaction to Peter certainty,
"In a very ordinary, middle class, Canadian way, it is actually very easy to understand what Jesus means by losing our life while we have been busy building it. Career burn-outs, mid-life crises, and marriage break downs all testify to that.
But just exactly how do we turn that around and "lose" our life so that we don't just lose it, but get it back? The key, I think, is to not mentally skip over the crucial qualification: "for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel."
Okay, so just how does one lose one's life for Jesus' sake and for the sake of the gospel? That, I think, takes a life-time to answer, and is best done in a community of friends seeking the same thing for themselves. But at a minimum, it means recognizing that there is no pain-free way to live, and finding our life will mean saying, "No," to false hopes for happiness."
So this week we get to take some time to again have our world tipped up and to ask ourselves again “how does one lose one's life for Jesus' sake and for the sake of the gospel?” May God grant us wisdom, and courage to avoid false hopes for happiness.