Jesus is for losers. Not something you'll hear from the front of many churches but something that can be heard as the strong, brave and beautiful dismiss Jesus and His people as being beneath contempt.
Sometimes this has led to the insistence that Jesus is for winners, that he makes the strong stronger, the wise wiser, the beautiful more attractive and the tough tougher. Come to Jesus and 'overcome', come to Jesus and 'be more than a conqueror'. There is more than a grain of truth in those calls but they are misapplied and misshapen when issued unqualified.
Jesus is for losers: "After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them,“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-32)
If we were winners, if we had no need of help, if we were 'well' and capable of doing all that we needed we would have no need for Jesus. But we're not. We all (regardless of status, finances, physical attractiveness, personal winsomeness), everyone of us, are losers.
I'm a loser,
you're a loser
and we are not OK.
Accepting that (acknowledging that before God we are morally bankrupt, without means of helping ourselves) is the beginning of understanding the true nature of things.
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." Ephesians 2:1-3
Telling people about Jesus in almost any other terms is getting off on the wrong footing:
"you're a really nice person and God love you because he likes you..."
"you've been hurt by this world and God wants to take the hurt away..."
"you have a great destiny and God wants you to discover your true destiny in him..."
It puts people at the centre and God at the periphery. It leads to a discipleship of comfort and a church of well-being. Jesus, in these terms, is for winners - come to Jesus and win!
Jesus spoke openly about losers, and losers loosing what little they have in order to follow him:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12.13-21
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:23-26
You see? Jesus is for losers!
I'm a loser.
You're a loser.
We're not OK.
Jesus came for people like you and me. People who have everything to gain and only a misplaced sense of self-respect to lose. If we are willing to surrender ourselves, our petty pretenses, our shambolic dignity, our raggedy pride and wobbly morals; if we will deny ourselves and follow Jesus; if we chose to lose as losers we will gain Him.
Him, in whom, the full riches of God's glory, the depths and height of wisdom and truth, the only source of Life;
- Jesus - whose death has paid the debt of our losses that we might be credited with the riches of Heaven
- Jesus - who rose from death, never to die again, so that we might walk through that dark valley, certain of life for all eternity because that is what he has promised to those who will walk with Him
- Jesus - who suffered the loss of all things that he might gain for Himself a people, brothers and sisters, who he is now not embarrassed to pronounce His family because He has brought us to Himself and bought us for Himself, so that God might be just and merciful
"he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" Jim Elliot.
"For me to live is Christ, to die is gain" Philippians 1.21
Jim Elliot and his friends lost their lives: death is inevitable for us all. Whether life ends surrounded by comfort or in an uncomfortable crisis it will come to us all. Then death, the great thief, will measure how much of a loser you truly are.
The more we amass here and now the greater the loss in death. The only thing that death cannot rob us of, because death itself has been plundered, is Jesus.
I'm a loser
Jesus has loved me, given his life for me and rescued me from the great Loss. What I've lost in this world is not worth comparing to the great gain of Jesus.
Picking up the cross of Christ
I scorn the loss of 'loser' me,
In Him my soul rests long,
In Him my gain will be.
He alone, my greatest gain,
He, my Lord, my only love:
Jesus, loving losing Lord,
I, in you, and you alone,
Could not, will not, richer be.
"For me to live is Christ, to die is gain" Philippians 1.21