Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
Interestingly, this pericope is set in the middle of a longer one about cursing and blessing. They are two sides of the same coin. How could we know what blessing is without cursing, and how could we understand the pain of a curse without first experiencing the joy of a blessing? In verse 15, the Lord says: “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” Again, two sides of the same coin. In verse 19, again, the Lord says: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” I think the interesting thing about these dual entities is that each one contains a piece of the other. A slippery slope exists between life and death, prosperity and destruction. Everyday that we live, we are one step closer to death, and if we believe what the Bible says, it is in death that we truly experience life. This passage is an interesting look at freewill, too: “now choose life.” Choose to live in blessing, prosperity, and life, because it is only when our hearts turn away from God and we worship other gods that we will be destroyed. We have to make a conscious choice to put money, fame, power, food, possessions above God, and that, when our focus is removed from our creator, is when we experience the opposite force of curse, death, destruction. As I look back, I wonder how many times I’ve chosen to worship something other than the Lord. I wonder how frequently I see only the curse side of the coin and forget to turn it over and look for the blessing. Am I making an effort to live in the land of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Am I choosing life?
Luke 9: 22-25
Isn’t this the same question the writer asks in Deuteronomy? What good is it for me to throw away my life in vain search of other things, when I am given my fathers’ land? Luke writes: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” This quote is part of the response that Jesus gives to Peter after asking, “Who do the crowds think I am? Who do you think I am?” Peter (if I were a disciple I would be Peter, boisterous, racous, mostly annoying to the other discisples) has it figured out: “[You are] the christ of God.” Because Peter recognizes that Jesus is the Christ, his whole world changes. Immediately, he is admonished and told exactly what it means to understand that Jesus is the Christ. To understand that Jesus is the Christ is to pick up a whole new set of values, to pick up a cross, to pick up a new life. To understand that Jesus is the Christ is to live out our understanding in such a way that other people begin to understand it as well. Jesus says: “Whoever loses his life for me, will save it.” How am I losing my life? Have I even considered what that means? What does it look like to lose your life? By losing my life am I living in the Kingdom? Is this how God makes [Their] appeal through us?
Note: Whenever it is necessary to refer to God with a pronoun I prefer to use [Their]- simply because I do not believe that God is a man, and I like to remember that God exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Hence [Their}.