Be it friends or possessions, loss will come on the journey to gaining the Christ.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, [a]but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in [b]the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

Mark 10:29-30

This morning as I began to write this Advent installment, I noticed that our subscriber count had gone down. A small pang struck my heart but then just as quickly I realized that this is one of those periods of time in which truth is met with such departures. We never get used to them…and we never should. They always hurt measured against the weight of the loss. Some are greater, such as death of family or friend. Some are of possessions we needed to live. But I think the ones that hurt the greatest are the losses where they are deliberate -such as rejection and abandonment by friends, even brothers in Christ who turn away and reject Him and his teachings.

For the Christian, these are a particularly hard but necessary loss for which Christ gives us strength to bear the pain….and still stand, still keep going. The scripture in Mark is only one of many that forewarn us that our journey will be fraught with losses in this world. Yet we are not told that it ends there. Unlike in the world, these losses indicate that there is something better to be gained.

But whatever things were gain to me, these things I have counted as loss because of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss [a]in view of the surpassing value of [b]knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, [c]for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them mere rubbish, so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and [d]the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already [e]grasped it all or have already become perfect, but I press on if I may also take hold of that [f]for which I was even taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-12

Here is where we really get down to defining love the way God does (because He is love) and what qualifies that love so that we put nothing and no one ahead of our love for God and the truth.

Those that leave love, that leave us, that leave God, always create sorrow for those they leave. But in that pain, in order for love to succeed and to be sincere, we must hate what is bad and remain true to God and the truth. That is the ultimate paradox of love and loss we face in this life journey on earth to heaven, in this Advent journey to Christ now. We cannot now have one without the other, for there is a vital lesson to be learned. Chesterton explains why:

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”

All pessimism has a secret optimism for its object. All surrender of life, all denial of pleasure, all darkness, all austerity, all desolation has for its real aim this separation of something so that it may be poignantly and perfectly enjoyed. I feel grateful for the slight sprain which has introduced this mysterious and fascinating division between one of my feet and the other. The way to love anything is to realise that it might be lost. In one of my feet I can feel how strong and splendid a foot is; in the other I can realise how very much otherwise it might have been. The moral of the thing is wholly exhilarating. This world and all our powers in it are far more awful and beautiful than even we know until some accident reminds us. If you wish to perceive that limitless felicity, limit yourself if only for a moment. If you wish to realise how fearfully and wonderfully God’s image is made, stand on one leg. If you want to realise the splendid vision of all visible things—wink the other eye.

-G. K. Chesterton, The Advantages of having one leg, Tremendous Trifles (1909)

Even Jesus felt the sorrow of loss and unrequited love when Jerusalem rejected Him and He in turn had to reject them. (Luke 13:34; Matthew 23:37) Even the rejection of His sacrifice on the Cross and the Eucharist that was prefigured when many following Him turned away, aghast that He had told them that to receive life they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. (John 6:67) His final rejection by those He loved came with His sacrifice on the Cross. Should we expect any less experience of rejection by others than our Lord did and does?

Yes, we must approach everything that we love, including God, with the realization that we could lose them and Him (If we walk away willfully or commit the sin against the Holy Spirit). This realization, as Chesterton points out, has the effect of enhancing the worth of what we have and our appreciation of it and for them. It serves to make us realize who we belong to and how we treat them. It makes us realize that there are limits to our value of some things and people over other things, and ultimately to face all limitation in the face of our loyalty and love for God.

Our Advent Prayer

Dearest Jesus, who wept at the death of your friend
and taught that they who mourn shall be comforted,
grant us the comfort of your presence in our loss.
Send Your Holy Spirit to direct us
lest we make hasty or foolish decisions.
Send Your Spirit to give us courage
lest through fear we recoil from living.
Send Your Spirit to bring us your peace
lest bitterness, false guilt, or regret take root in our hearts. Amen.

Beloved, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”. Let us press on in our Advent journey.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.