Summary: A comparison of the wasted life vs. the surrendered life.
A dairy farmer went to buy a new pickup truck. He had seen an ad in the paper about discounts and factory rebates, so he decided to trade in his old clunker. He chose a new model and was ready to write the check for the full amount. The salesman said, “Wait, I haven’t given you the final cost yet.” The farmer said, “Isn’t it the price I saw in the paper?” The salesman said, “No, that’s for the basic model, all the options cost extra.” So after the options were added, the farmer reluctantly wrote a check and drove off in his new pick-up.
A few months later the car salesman called the farmer because he wanted to buy a cow for his son’s 4-H project. The farmer assured the car salesman he had several good milk cows for sale for $500. The salesman drove out and selected a cow and took out his checkbook. The farmer said, “Wait. I haven’t given you the final cost yet.” Then he handed the salesman a bill that read:
BASIC COW $500
Two-tone exterior $45
Extra stomach $75
Milk storage compartment $60
Straw recycle compartment $120
Four handy spigots @ $10 each $40
Leather upholstery $125
Dual horns $45
Automatic rear fly swatter $38
Natural fertilizer attachment $185
GRAND TOTAL $1233
Whether you’re buying cars or cows, it’s important to get to what we call “the bottom line.” What is the “bottom line” of following Jesus? You may go into sticker shock when you discover it. Many people are only interested in the basic model of Christian living. They want just enough Christianity to keep them out of hell without intruding on their fun. You don’t find the full cost of discipleship advertised very often these days. Few preachers discuss it because it is unpleasant; it doesn’t fill churches. It isn’t the prosperity gospel that says, “Believe and you will be rich and happy.” As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his classic book, The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to die.”
That’s exactly what Jesus communicated in the passage we’re examining today.
Matthew 16:24-28. “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. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’”
When we read this we have a hard time understanding the word “lose.” We live in a culture that has programmed into us that winning is good and losing is bad. I love it when I win a golf match with my son-in-law and I absolutely hate to lose. When athletes lose a big game or a salesman loses a big account they lose sleep as a result. I’ve never seen a parent driving a car with a bumper sticker that says, “My child is a loser.”
Forget sports or business, doesn’t it drive you crazy when you lose something? Have you ever lost your car keys or something else and turned your house upside down searching for it? You are miserable until you find whatever you’ve lost. The world’s attitude is: “Winner Takes All.” But then we read the words of Jesus that fly straight in the face of this obsession with winning and He says, “The real name of the game is ‘Loser Takes All.’”
His statement about losing and gaining is a parable, but it is also a paradox. A paradox is a statement seemingly absurd at first glance but actually communicates profound truth. To help us get a handle on this great truth, let me substitute some other words and phrases for the word “lose.” Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save (play it safe) his life will lose (waste) it, but whoever loses (surrenders) his life for me will find it (be rewarded).”
So instead of talking about losing, I want to talk about the wasted life and the surrendered life. The choice is yours. There are basically two ways you can choose to live your life. In this message I want to compare and contrasted the wasted life with the surrendered life.
1. THE WASTED LIFE: “It’s all about ME and what I want!”
I borrowed the title of this message from a great book I read recently by John Piper. It’s entitled, Don’t Waste Your Life. We have the book for sale in our bookstore today, but I want to warn you that reading this book could be hazardous to your comfortable life. The thesis of his book is that most people, including Christians are wasting their lives by living only for themselves.