January 10, 2014

Becoming a Loser

I like to win.

It might be a sporting competition, a card game, or a new recipe in the kitchen. But I like to win. Elementary teacher or not, I believe there are times when the phrase “everybody’s a winner” does not apply to life. Forget the red participation ribbon. I want the blue first place ribbon.

Sometimes it feels great to be good at something, like scoring the most points or making a wickedly good chip dip. And sometimes it feels great to work really hard and get a trophy after the game, or at least a “You’re Awesome!” sticker for your shirt.

(Jocelyn likes to win too, which is why her daddy is teaching her to be a little Duke fan. Thank you, Nikki for the adorable hat and mittens!)
But the fact that I like to win is not the point of this discussion. The point is this: Jesus asks me to be more than a winner.

Jesus asks me to be a loser.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

“Lose my life.” Such a loaded phrase.

Whether you like to win or not, I have a feeling that at times you might have difficulty losing what you consider your “life” too.

My "life" means my free time, my money, my plans for the future, my need for approval, my desire to be in control, my ideas and philosophies, my pride, my fears, my comforts – both foreign and domestic, my family, my social life, my job, my retirement, my hobbies, my Type A and OCD behaviors, my desire to win, my…my…my…my…

But if I hang onto these things, what am I really winning?

The things I try to hang onto are so temporary, things that “moth and rust” will surely destroy; silly treasures on earth.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish; that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.

Loss. Rubbish.

And what’s more, Christ became a loser for me.

That’s right, Jesus Christ, the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator of the universe; the one who knows all the hairs on my head and the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore; the God who needs no government or army for His will to be done; the King of kings and Lord of lords; the God who is never tired nor weak nor busy; the Alpha and the Omega…gave it all up, so that he could come and rescue the losers, to save those humble enough to admit that they need him. He came to earth to save you and me.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and become obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Besides, what I’m losing is nothing compared to what I’m winning.

Therefore, I learn to become a “loser.”

I stop pretending that I have it all together just because I work hard and plan ahead. I stop pretending that I am “a winner.”

I learn the humility, sometimes painfully, of being a minority in a foreign country, because that is where God led us to at this time in our lives. I reconsider buying that Big Mac I crave, because somewhere out there in Asia, a missionary reaching the unreached might actually need the money a little more. I do my imperfect best to change dirty diapers, read baby board books, wipe drool, and slowly teach and pray she will choose Jesus too, because that is my daily cross. I wonder, dream, and think about my future, all while being reminded that I am not in control of it. I learn to pray “Thy will be done,” no matter what the cost.

And in all of this, I learn a different kind of winning: the kind where my loss is also my gain; the kind where my life focus isn’t on my own self-fulfillment, but on my orders from Matthew 28. Where my life is a love lived out not in just words, but with actions and in truth.

Because Jesus didn’t come to earth to save the winners.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

Grace and Peace,