Losing

When you lose, what will you do?
When you lose, what will you do?
WHEN you lose, what will you do?
I am convinced that there are times that everybody is set up to lose, myself included. I don’t like to lose. In fact there was a time in my life when I probably would have said that I DON’T lose. I like to win. I’m obsessed with winning.
God isn’t overly concerned with my views on things and maybe you’ve noticed that He’s the dad and we’re the kids? We might amuse Him with our grand thoughts but it’s doubtful whether we can impress Him. Once we accept the greatness of God as it is we can become quite comfortable and feel blessed that God loves us at all. Some people “outgrow” that feeling of wonder and never recover from it. I on the other hand have never gotten over being saved and never want to. It’s a mystery I think about every day of my life. Still can’t figure out why He did it…
That was the setup for this:
God sets us up to lose sometimes.
Why?
If we don’t lose we won’t MOVE.
Jesus was always an agent of change and will ever be. His agents are agents of change and will ever be. He loves you just the way you are, but He loves you way too much to leave you that way!
I preached out of the text Matthew 26 in the gospels along the thread of His interaction with two guys just before His torture and crucifixion. Peter and Judas.
WHEN you lose, what will you do? Will you move in or move out?
Both were losers that night but Peter was saved and Judas was lost. Why? Both betrayed Christ that night. Peter denied His existence and betrayed Him with a small “b”. Judas’ betrayal was a BETRAYAL. Jesus had confronted him in regards to his thievery of the money box in his charge earlier in the chapter while Judas and the other disciples were up in arms about the cost of oil a woman used to anoint the head of Christ. “It should have been sold and the money given to the poor!”
Sounds good Christian! (Unless your words were to your Lord Jesus. He doesn’t enjoy being flogged with His own words.)
I have been in this game a long time folks.
I grew up in church. More specifically I grew up in church leadership. If it is comfort you want you will not find it in the Gospel of Jesus. You will find salvation and a safe hiding place for your innermost soul, but physical comfort… not so much. True Christianity is not that complicated. It is simple but it is very hard. That salvation came free to us should be a really good indicator that someone else paid the meal ticket, and not just Christ but those who paid and bled to introduce you to, and train you in the ways of Jesus.
You are fully expected to do the same for the next one. Much suffering comes when a follower of Jesus decides to actually follow and do what His Lord commands. Much suffering comes because we are inherently selfish and fixated on pleasing our carnal desires and Jesus is committed to crucifying your flesh.
Jesus is always an agent of change.
Religious people do not like change.
The agents of Jesus are always agents of change. When you and I are complacent or getting too big for our boots or caught in addictions they confront us and demand that we change! My mentors always did this and they continue to do this. “Come on Corey! You can do better than you’re doing! Step up!”
If the church no longer looks like this it is not the Gospel that needs to change it is us! Comfort and self righteousness needs to be taken behind the barn and shot and left there to rot as a reminder of just how close we are to mistaking the true faith and creating a religion with ME at the centre.
That is really the truth. When I as a Christian start to get proud and think that I’ve “arrived” somewhere Jesus is not impressed that there is now a layer between me and the sinner I’ve supposed to connect with and bring to Him. Now it’s “Me and THEM”, not “US”. When in fact I AM them.
Peter denied the very existence of Jesus three times.
Judas got offended when Jesus confronted his sin and did what offended people do: betrayed and murdered. (Don’t get offended by this statement but put it on the back burner and don’t ever let it get a hold of you!) You will do damage you never thought yourself capable of because the only thing on your mind is leaving. When you leave in offence something or someone dies. You’ll have your reasons of course but they’ll only appease your own conscience until you do what offended people do…
Jesus looks across at Peter while he is denying him for the third time and Peter’s much vaunted strength and tenacity take a bullet in the head and his inner world tumbles down in the courtyard of the high priest. He runs out and weeps and it is no wonder! He walks straight into something that I am convinced very few people who consider themselves Christians in North America ever walk into and make it out the other side of:
Peter realizes in his core that, under the same pressure and circumstance he would betray Jesus again. And again. And again.
Peter realizes in his core that, under the same pressure and circumstance he would betray Jesus again. And again. And again. (You and I need to grapple with this. You will be set up to lose every single time you get on your high horse. I have been brought down every single time without exception.)
But Jesus said that He would meet Peter in Galilee after Peter had fallen….
Peter RETURNS to his Lord the only way anyone can: Broken and useless.
Judas runs to the chief priests and actually tries to return the silver. He repents and tries to do the right thing but does he return to Jesus? No. He plays the repentance game but falls short because guilt does not always lead to restoration. To say you did wrong does not actually fix the relationship. You have to RETURN and make it right and stand in the dock as Peter did.
Three years before on the day he left his fishing nets to follow Jesus, Peter had said “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man!” Here we are at his (and your) defining moment three years later at the trial of his Master. Here is the moment he had dreamed of when he could rise from the pile and be separate from all the others! All the other disciples and acquaintances had left in fear and he alone was left to fulfil his high words and the desire of his great and daring heart: to die with his Lord! Three years of intimate living with the Son of God.
He lost.
He lost because he had been set up to lose. There was a loss in the cards for him.
Three years later and the only thing he can say is what he said at the first “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man!”
In falling he knows that all of his capabilities mean nothing in the face of his very real and very human betrayal. He knows with certainty that there is more than enough pressure for him to walk away from the only thing that matters in the world again and again. He sees the fallacy of perfection and falls into the waiting arms of Jesus.
His fall connects him to the sinner once again. In his great loss many others win as he goes on in the everyday revelation of what he really has to offer Christ: nothing! In his nothingness he lives to affect the lives of countless millions with only one thing: The saving power of JESUS! Tradition says he asked at his own crucifixion many years later to be crucified upside down because he was simply not even worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord!
Jesus had to lose for you to win! There was no way around it! Peter finally understands the WAY of Jesus and walks into his own loss fully knowing what awaits him now!
For the lost people of the world to win through to the God who made them someone has to lose and lose badly. That someone was now Peter. That someone is now you. That someone is now me.
This is why very few people actually follow Christ.
Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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