Winners and Losers

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28 ESV). It’s always been the case, although recently the headlines have seemed to be screaming for me to notice the announcement of “winners and losers” in some category of life. It may have been at the conclusion of an athletic event, a political issue, a cultural event, or some other well reported contest. Regardless of my personal position on any of these things, one thing is sure: historically losers have been scandalized as those unworthy of winning because of something they did or didn’t do. Most laugh, and mock losers as unproductive people of society. Yet both history and Scripture would disagree with this assessment. Alfred Landon lost in a landslide to Franklin Roosevelt, yet he had a distinguished career thereafter.  He witnessed 8 more presidents including America’s oldest president, Ronald Reagan who helped him celebrate his 100th birthday. Roosevelt died in office at the age of 63. No one lost a larger landslide election than George McGovern when he lost to Richard Nixon in 1972. He has had many humanitarian awards since losing, and though near death he has lived to be 90 years old. Nixon left office in the scandal of Watergate, and died in obscurity and shame. Though not a politician and hardly a loser, George Burns was always second to his wife Gracie Allen. When she died, George’s career began. In fact, George Burns became a movie star at the age of 79. He went on to live to be 100. Gracie died at the moderate age of 69 of a heart attack. These same trends have been duplicated over and over again throughout history. In our Christian life Jesus asked all of his followers to be losers. That’s the reference in our reading today. We see that in the Scripture repeated often. The prophets and the apostles sacrificed their lives for their faith. They understood an incredible principle that produced this incredible commitment and hope. They did not love this present life. They understood what was waiting for them was exponentially greater.  The call for us today is the same. What the world may see as losing because of our faith is the ultimate victory. It last for an eternity! We are real winners in...

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