I am in the position, as a pastor, of interacting with a wide variety of people. No matter the age, the station in life, the family background, or the socio/economic situation, the biggest thing I see most people struggle with is letting go of something. We, as human beings, have this nasty tendency to hold onto things we really need to let go of, and I’m not just talking about hoarders. We hold onto our anger and nurse it as a grudge; we hold onto our past, as if our pedigree, of lack of it, has to be constantly brought up; we hold onto our bad habits of poor sleep patterns, unhealthy eating, and no time with God to the point that our bodies and our souls break; and, we hold onto our church traditions and our theological thinking with such ferocity that no one can pry them from our cold dead hearts.
If this New Testament lesson from the Apostle Paul tells us anything today it is this: For God’s sake, let it go! “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul died to his anger, his past religious zeal, his former theological thinking, his Jewish pedigree, and, quite frankly, everything. He did it so that he could gain Jesus because Jesus was the highest value for Paul – so valuable that he was willing to die to his former life in order to embrace Christ.
In this season of Lent we are to not only give up chocolate, or fast once a week, or take a break from social media; we are to die. There cannot be new life without a death. The death we need is to let go of all the emotional baggage, spiritual crud, and materialistic strivings that have played a more prominent role in our lives than knowing Jesus Christ, and him crucified. What am I giving up for Lent? I am going to follow Paul’s example and give up my life. Will you join me?
Blessed Lord Jesus, you are the ultimate value in life. Help me to beware of people who would seek to draw me away and deplete my soul from this highest priority of knowing you. I want to know you, the power of your resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings so that I can be more like you. Amen.