Loss for Gain...

Excerpted from John Bevere’s Driven By Eternity (Chapter 5: Pages 82 – 98)


It’s an exchange; we must give our entire life, and in place of it we get His life (nature). Jesus repeatedly communicates this:

     If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself
     [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his
     own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as
     a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me
     [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].
          Mark 8:34, AMP

We are to continually cleave steadfastly to Him. It’s not just a one-time prayer and then life as usual except that you are now in the “born again” club and are heaven bound. Jesus continues, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life” (Mark 8:35, NLT). The Amplified Bible states it this way; “Whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth] for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God].”

It’s a definitive exchange; we give up our rights as owners of our lives in order to follow His desires, and in return we receive His eternal life. With the gospel that is preached today, we’ve not emphasized this extremely important aspect of following Jesus; we’ve only told the benefits. In essence, we’ve preached the resurrection promises without preaching the impact and decision of the Cross.

It could be compared to a young man who sees a military recruiting commercial on television. He observes a classy naval man near his age dressed in a sharp uniform on the deck of a remarkable ship sailing the open seas with a beautiful crystal sky, smiling with his mates. The commercial then shows this sailor in ports all over the world, and it’s all free. The young man immediately goes to the recruiter and signs up. He doesn’t read the conditions of joining because he’s so focused on the benefits. He is so happy; now he’ll have a blast seeing the world, becoming a part of a great military, and making lots of new friends.

However, he quickly finds out in basic training that he can’t sleep in till nine o’clock in the morning, as was his custom. He is ordered to cut his cherished long hair. He can’t go to many social gatherings because he can’t leave base except for a couple days per month. Worse of all, he is on a regimented schedule that doesn’t allow time to hang out. All the while, he’s cleaning bathrooms and mess halls and doing pushups and other difficult training exercises. He’s lost the abundant leisure time he once had and is collapsing in bed each night from exhaustion. He’s still hopeful, as he knows he’ll soon be on the ship. Once basic training is over, he’s assigned to a ship, but it’s just as labor intensive, only now it is on the open seas. War breaks out, and now he finds himself fighting a battle for which he didn’t sign up.

He enlisted because it was a life he never could have provided for himself, and it was free. Yes, it was free, but he didn’t make note of the details at the recruiter’s office that it would cost him all his freedoms. In many ways he’s now offended. He feels cheated; in his eyes, he was sold a package that showed him only the benefits but didn’t make known the personal cost.

We’ve preached a gospel that speaks of a free salvation, which is absolutely accurate, but we’ve neglected to tell candidates it would cost them their freedom. When I speak of freedom, it isn’t real, but perceived liberty, for all those outside of Christ are bound to sin. They are slaves even though they may fully believe they’re free. It could be compared to the movie The Matrix. My oldest son rented the edited version of this movie one evening and showed it to our family, and I saw an amazing parallel.

An interesting question is posed in The Matrix: “How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world if you didn’t wake from the dream?” In this film, twentieth-century life flows on as normal, or so it seems. Late in the 21st century, man develops artificial intelligence (referred to simply as the Machines). These Machines take control of Earth, and man fights back. In the resulting power struggle, the world is decimated and the Machines are victorious. These machines discover they can manage to survive using electricity generated by the human body, so they create a grand illusion to fool humans into serving them. The world “seems” to still be normal (twentieth-century), but in fact the bodies of humans are contained in chambers on large “farms” and their minds are linked into a worldwide virtual reality computer program called the Matrix. So, in essence, the freedom of their lives isn’t real; rather, they are slaves.

It’s at this point that the film opens with a select group of men and women who have hacked their way out of the Matrix, discovering their true identity. They form a colony called Zion in the real world (which is otherwise lifeless). A few of them reenter the Matrix to battle the machines and set humanity free. The battle is intense and life is not easy; but the crusaders are more interested in genuine freedom rather than living a lie of false liberty. They would rather have liberty with difficulty than slavery with deceptive comfort.

Here we see the parallel. Many nonbelievers see Christians as slaves, in bondage, losing freedoms, while they themselves are free. However, the truth is that those outside of Christ are the ones bound, not unlike those living a lie in the “farms” enslaved by a machine. They are slaves to sin.


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