Junk mail claims “You’re a winner!” until you read the catch that costs. The gospels also have a catch: “Find life! (But first deny yourself, take up your cross, and let go of life).”
In Jesus we see in human terms what it means to be God. The gospels are the story of One who came into the world (Incarnation) and loses everything (crucifixion). So where is God found? With those who lose.
Amid flash floods, earthquakes, riots, and war, people ask “Where is God?” Christians proclaim: God is on the cross. God suffers with us. God does not will or permit suffering. God’s will is simple: God wills love—all the time, and that is all. “So suffering is not an obstacle to the presence of God, suffering is one manifestation of the presence of God.” (Michael J. Himes, Doing the Truth in Love).
Himes continues: “The cross is not something that happens to Jesus, it is what Jesus has been aiming at all along.” Jesus predicts the cross all the way: the one who holds onto life loses it; the one who gives life away sees it become everlasting life.
Do I want to give myself away? I am made in the image and likeness of God who is pure self-gift. When I’m pure gift, I’m truly who I really am. If I hold on to my life, I will not have any life. But when I give my life away, it becomes everlasting life, and I’m a winner.