Self-Preservation and Quality of Life

My family tries to eat healthy.  At least I thought we did.  That’s the thing about eating healthy.  It’s never enough.

You may have traded in your double-caffeinated energy drink for green tea but what do you know about the bags that hold those green tea leaves?  Where did they come from?  Who handled them?  And what about the staple that holds the string on to the top of the bag?  Do you know what happens when dangerous toxins are released from a single staple and enter your digestive system?

Or what about bread?  Everyone knows that white bread was invented by the Nazis in an effort to slowly kill off all Americans.  Not wanting the Nazis to get the upper hand, I made the decision a long time ago to switch to wheat bread.  A few weeks ago my wife went a step further and started making our own bread.  Take that, Nazis!

Not so fast.

At the health food store the other day the lady behind the counter let us know that any bread was bad.  She also went on to inform us that sliding boards, nice walks in the park and laughter were slowly killing us.  That’s when she recommended that we start eating organic lettuce pockets filled with air and a tiny drop of all natural butterfly tears.  They were on sale for $298.76.  I’ll let you know how it works out.

Two things fuel the health food industry.  Self-preservation and quality of life.  The thinking is that if you eat organic lettuce pockets filled with air and a tiny drop of all natural butterfly tears in your 30s and 40s you’ll live to be happy, healthy and 102-years-old.  What’s not said is that all of your friends will be dead and you’ll be broke.

Jesus had something to say about self-preservation and quality of life.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:24-28 (ESV)

Peter and John left their fishing business to follow Jesus.  Years later, Peter was crucified.  John finished out his days on a prison island.  Stephen was a promising young leader in a promising young church but he was killed because he took the Bible a little too seriously for some of the religious leaders’ liking.  And Paul was a highly educated man who considered it all sewage in comparison to the greater glory of knowing Christ.  He would spend the majority of his Christian life on the run, getting beaten and in prison.  He too would die for following Jesus.

There’s an interesting thing about self-preservation and quality of life.  Most of the people who spend their lives pursuing those two things never seem to get them.  It’s sort of like the carrot on the stick that the rabbit just never can catch.  It’s not really a life worth living.

True self-preservation and quality of life comes from giving up.  Giving up doesn’t mean laying around, eating potted meat and watching Welcome Back Kotter reruns all day.  It just means that as long as we are holding on to something, we are never really free.  Real freedom is found in doing big things for the glory of Jesus Christ because we know that wherever we go or whatever happens, he’s holding us.

I’m still eating healthy.  But I know that self-preservation can only go so far.  And quality of life cannot ultimately be found in flax seeds.

In a lot of ways, the call to follow Jesus is a call to self-destruction and the end of life as we know it.

And that’s when life really begins.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:9-10 (ESV)

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