23 Then (Jesus) said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 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. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
Jesus could say this because he had already surrendered his life by coming to us for the purpose of showing us that the way to the Father is the way of the cross. It is the way of giving your life for the sake of others.
So what does this teach me about myself? If I am ruthlessly honest, it exposes how incredibly selfish I really am. I want things to go my way. I want people to defer to my point of view or to my desired course of action. I want my family to serve me and appreciate how fortunate they are to have me in their lives. I want to be served. I want my diet soft drink and the remote. I want … I want … I want.
Twenty-two years ago, Pink Floyd lamented the tragedy of turning away from the needs of our fellow humans in a wonderful song called On The Turning Away. But long before that, Jesus spoke of another, yet obviously related kind of turning away. Jesus says to turn from my selfish ways and follow him. That’s because his way and my way – as much as I’d like to think otherwise – are not the same thing. The closer I get to Jesus, and the more I follow his way, the more corrupt and depraved my way is exposed to be.
This is not an exercise in beating myself up. This is a waking up. This is grace. This is sanity. This is being able to breathe deeply, smile broadly, give freely and love recklessly. This makes the right kind of turning away and the saving of my life possible.