The ultimate disgrace today, it seems, is to be called a loser. You cannot sink lower than that. To be labelled a loser is to be consigned to derision, to be avoided by the crowd, to be friendless and hopeless. We live in a world of winners and there is no person applauded more than the one who has strained heart and muscle to be a winner. They are the ones who are glorified and whom the media bow down and worship. Mind, you, the media are also in the business of bringing winners down to earth and if there is any chink or flaw then watch out. Winners can become losers overnight. Such is the volatile, silly treadmill we find ourselves caught up in as we watch the world pass before our eyes.
By the standards of our world, the Church seems to pay great attention to one of the greatest losers of all time: a wandering Jewish rabbi who was executed routinely by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago; a man whose friends abandoned him when it was discovered he was a loser; a man who never made any money, never got a steady job, and only lived till he was thirty.
He was a loser in terms of popularity for although he had a following in his northern towns and among the people from whom he called his chief followers, that popularity didn’t last long. His followers resurrected it briefly when they came into the capital city of Jerusalem but that moment was short‑lived. In the end the movement fizzled out as the man was the unfortunate victim of malicious religious men. It was a great pity, but he was simply a loser.
And yet today across the world people come together in large and small gatherings because of this loser. They sing songs about his name and offer prayers because of him. They read the books that remember his life and work and they pour over his words and wisdom. For a man who, apart from a small handful of faithful women, died alone, the millions who now claim he is the Way, the Truth and the Life represent an amazing turn around to winner status, if ever there was one.
One of the bits of wisdom he gave to the generations who followed was a word about losing. It was a strange and controversial statement and has been mulled over by many a scholar and ordinary person in the street. In simple terms it was expressing the view that losing was not the end of the world. Losing was no bad thing if you gained something greater in the long term.
So Jesus would have said the most important possession that you have is the God‑given spark of life in you. That life is an eternal spark and is not simply the breath of your present existence. Your life is not simply your life on earth, it is your life with God. Such a life is a puzzle to most of the world, for unselfishness is regarded as weakness; to put others before yourself, to notice other people’s needs before your own, to go out of your way to include the losers of the world in your community of friendship, is considered very strange.
Taking up your cross is not in the “How to get ahead of everyone else” video’s. Getting to the top may be the chief goal and end for many a person in this world, but Christians need to seriously question it as the ideal way of life for individuals and especially for nations. It is not the way of the one who is The Way. His way is the way of the cross.
May we guided to walk The Way with Jesus, this Lent, this Easter and beyond.
With love and prayers