Out of the Way (Mark 8:35)

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Mark 8:35

I have heard teaching on this verse and its parallels in the other gospels and the truths contained herein never grow old. This morning, I was drawn not to the concept of losing or gaining — both of which are often taught on — but on the concept of life or the soul. The Greek word used is a form of ψυχή (psyche).

Looking the term up, I find that it has a multitude of possible meanings and that it is translated variously in scripture. It is a difficult idea to pin down. There is, however, a unifying core to all of the ways it is rendered: self. Whether it is thought of as one’s heart or one’s soul or one’s life, all of these cross in the self.

The concordance tells me that it may mean life in the sense of the thing that animates me and moves me. Am I willing to become a martyr? God is not saying that I will become a martyr, only that the understanding that it is possible must be present. This life that I call mine does not belong to me if I am to follow Christ. The life I have is now His to continue or end as furthers His kingdom and increases His glory. Am I willing to let go of that?

I also read that the term may mean the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions — what we commonly call the heart. Am I willing to put aside my own feelings and affections in favor of the command of my God? He tells me to love my neighbor. I, in myself, may not like my neighbor very much. One must override the other and Christ is telling me that I must put aside my own affections and feelings; my aversion to that neighbor in obedience to my Lord. The desires is a much more difficult thing for me. My desires, I think, includes my dreams and what I want for myself and my family. I must lay down my dreams and aspirations at Christ’s feet and wait for Him to commission me.

There is more. Psyche can also be the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life. My morality must be aligned with His. While society may not deem something wrong — certain sexual activities, lying under certain circumstances, infidelity, breaking certain contracts, dishonoring parents, coveting, to name a few examples — God’s Law and God’s moral compass are to be my guide. My conscience may lie (so I should not always let my conscience be my guide … sorry, Jiminy). Society’s morals change. God’s morals are absolute and I must lay down any claim to a morality that exists apart from God’s.

In short, I must lay at God’s feet everything that makes me uniquely me. He does not say that He will not give it back. In fact, He seems to imply that only by laying all of me at His feet can I ever truly have it in an real sense (whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it). C.S. Lewis once wrote that we only get to be truly ourselves when our selves have been caught up in Him for Whom they are created. It was something to that effect, anyway.

This morning, let me come to Christ and lay all that I am and all that I may yet be at His feet. Not so that I may get it back, but so that I may gain Him and find in Him all that I need.

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2 thoughts on “Out of the Way (Mark 8:35)

    • DC says:

      That is an interesting post, but I think it ignores too many passages that do not jive with the concept of “life” being the only possible translation of the form of psyche used. Matthew 11:29, for example, when Jesus speaks of finding rest for our psyche and Matthew 12:18 where it speaks of God’s psyche being well-pleased in His servant and Matthew 26:38 where Jesus says that His psyche is exceedingly sorrowful.

      Moreover, the concept of the immortality of the human soul — or, at least, of its persistence after being created, which may be something entirely other than true immortality — is taught in several passages. One example is when Jesus speaks of the sheep and the goats and says that the sheep receive eternal life (Matthew 25:46). Scripture does teach the persistence of the soul after death (see the passage about Samuel being resurrected by the witch of Endor) and of eternal life. Interesting thought process, but nihilistic in scope and not consistent with the whole of scripture.

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