Hating This Life

Posted on November 4, 2013 | 16 comments

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. – John 12:25

As Jesus is preparing his disciples for his upcoming sacrifice and resurrection, he describes what a follower of his looks like. Like a grain of wheat, that must fall to the ground and die in order to bear fruit.

A follower of the Christ must be willing do die to the false self in order to begin to experience the blessing of new life. (click to tweet!)

We must all be willing to go through the same Paschal transformation in this life that Jesus stepped into through the cross. (see Understanding Resurrection and Paschal Mystery, Episode One)

But within this passage, Jesus also uses a contrast between one who loves his life and one who hates his life in this world. He likens the grain of wheat that dies to one who hates his life in this world.

What does it mean to hate this life?

Is it a sin to enjoy a sunset? To delight in a good meal? Look forward to sexual intimacy with our spouse?

Does this teaching mean we are to avoid things that are pleasurable? Must the one who follows Christ become an ascetic – abstaining from all forms of pleasure or enjoyment?

Historically, this is just what some have done. Practicing asceticism, moving to the wilderness, living in isolation and in intentionally hard circumstances to avoid enjoyment.

Yet, we see a lot of this in our churches too. Not that it would be called asceticism, but those whose mindset is that to experience happiness is spiritual weakness.

But Judaism is filled with feasts and celebrations, that Jesus partook in. This same Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard. You don’t get that label if you do not find moments in which to have some enjoyment.

So, what does it mean?

Hating this life means that we should not attempt to find wholeness in the things of this world.

There is a difference between enjoying a meal that is well prepared and tasty and turning to food for a sense of comfort.

There is a difference between finding pleasure in different forms of intimacy with your spouse and needing that relationship to validate one’s worth as a person.

Hating this life means not to look to what we do, what we have, and what people think of us for our sense of worth.

It means not to use the standards of this world and comparison with others as a way to define our identity.

We should hate how the world builds a desire in us to be pulled from God and seek wholeness on our own. Exactly the desire we saw built up in Eve in the garden.

We should hate the brokenness that seeking wholeness apart from God perpetuates in this world and in our relational systems.

Loving or hating this world speaks to what you are pursuing.

Jesus is our wholeness. Clothed in the righteousness he provides, we experience freedom from this worlds false standards and also peace with God.

Dying to our false self means we daily – moment by moment – remember and live in our true covering.

Once we have experienced the unfailing love of Christ, the old things we turned to begin to lose  their powers of satisfaction.

We can begin to learn to enjoy a meal for the taste rather than the comfort it provides.

God wants us to enjoy. That was part of his instruction in the garden. That is part of his being a Father that gives good gifts.

But, in those gifts we are not to seek wholeness apart from him.

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  1. I’m visiting today from the bloody mary hop and I enjoyed your post.

  2. Visiting from Heather’s place. This post leaves truth resounding in my ears. I love this – “Dying to our false self means we daily – moment by moment – remember and live in our true covering.” Thank you for these beautiful, apt reminders… that Jesus is our wholeness, and every other happiness finds its proper place in the vastness that is him.

  3. This is so much easier said than done. It is in the picking up our cross and following him daily where our hands are too full of his will than our own. The more I walk with him, desiring his desires, the more I see the ugliness of sin in myself and the world. That is what I hate. But somehow this carrying of the cross breaks the chains and I can walk in the freedom of Christ with the enjoyment of the liberties of his goodness and blessings. This can be a crazy web to untangle but you did a great job clarifying this passage. Blessings! Rachael @ Inking the Heart

  4. Thanks for sharing at Talking Tuesday! This was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing!

  5. “Dying to our false self means we daily – moment by moment – remember and live in our true covering. Once we have experienced the unfailing love of Christ, the old things we turned to begin to lose their powers of satisfaction.”

    Hate in this sense does make sense – – Actually I love my life because I live in Jesus and He in lives in Me. Thank you for your thoughtful post and causing us to pull apart the words “hate my life” and understand its true meaning.
    Thanks for sharing here at “Tell Me a Story.”

  6. I love the clarity that you always bring to these sticky issues, Scott. I’ve struggled with these very issues lately and I find comfort in your words and challenge to recalibrate my focus on Christ alone! He truly is the only One who can satisfy!

  7. what we are pursuing…..thats were we find where we stand….great post

  8. Visiting from Pour Your Heart Out, what a great heartfelt post!

  9. As a person with a chronic illness and disability, these words offer such hope! “remember and live in our true covering”….. what bliss that will be, our true covering! And a reminder of where our focus should be is a true blessing! Thank you! Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

  10. Great perspective… I love how it balances out not seeking comfort from the world without having to completely deprive ourselves of all joy (which, honestly, is just a different way of trying to seek comfort from the world, by showing how “above it all” we really are.)

  11. Thanks for sharing. Self worth, what an interesting post.

  12. It’s hard to live in the world but not of the world. The way I try to keep looking God-ward is to read His word daily and focus on the truth He wants me to live by. There is so much in our world that we can appreciate and enjoy but it’s about holding on to what is good by measuring it against the standards of God.
    Thanks so much for sharing at Essential Fridays.

  13. I’m visiting from Sunday Stillness. I appreciate the clarity with which you have approached this passage. What spoke to me most at this time was your statement “We can begin to learn to enjoy a meal for the taste rather than the comfort it provides.” Your timely words have given me much to pray about. Thank you.

  14. Thank you for sharing on Family Fridays at Livin The Mom Life!!!!

  15. “But, in those gifts we are not to seek wholeness apart from him.” <— yes! I love this explanation.

  16. Good words and a great reminder of how we can truly find joy in life without seeking validation, comfort and wholeness from the world. Thanks for linking up to Through The Lens Thursday.

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