Researchers will tell you that one of the noteworthy things about Generation X is that they grew up in a world of security. Conversely, the Millennial Generation, those born after 1982 were the ones who grew up in the shadows of September 11th. Instead of having security from a world that was free of wars, their security was imposed upon them by their parents, who sacrifice at all costs to keep their children away from harm. This can most laughably be seen in Little League rules in which all children are declared winners (which remarkably also makes all children losers) so as to not malign their fragile self-esteem. Since I’m of the opinion that a little humility actually helps make us better human beings (and future employees) you can guess what I think of this contrived security. Its an illusion, and at some point in the future those kids are going to realize it, and instead of having a way to deal with the uncertainty of life, they are going to be left ill-equipped and desolate.
Despite an ability to comment on this deficiency in others, I’ve been lax at noticing it in my own life. However, as only God’s Word can, a familiar passage reminded me that I too am in danger of imposing a false security. The passage was Matthew 16:24-25 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (NIV) Reading this passage before I always thought that Jesus was identifying Himself as the only means of salvation; commending His disciples to the truth that they can not provide themselves eternal life. And maybe He was, but additionally I think He was showing us that we tend to want to keep our lives for ourselves. Just like the parent wants to provide barriers to any real or perceived harm towards their child, we like to provide our own barriers of excuses for doing what God wants. We want to save our lives to, as Frank Sinatra might say, “do it our way.” Its not only that we might think that salvation comes through our own works, but we might believe the lie that its our life and we can do with it what we want. Christ says we can, but that’s the surest way to lose that life in the end. The only way to gain real life, is to give our life up for Him.
Parents want to save their children from pain. We want to save ourselves from the same. Because following Christ is never easy and we think if we can justify our reluctance to do what He’s called us to that somehow have things our way and His. But that’s a malicious heresy. We only get one life. Its our decision whether we save it or we let Him.