The Secret Success Of A Hated Life

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)

Jesus preached the anti-prosperity gospel of modern American evangelicalism. He also would have had no part in the modern psyscho-babble self-esteem feel goody shtick of Dr. Phil wannabe pastors.

The immediate context of this verse shows Jesus speaking to the disciples towards the closing of His earthly ministry. When the Greeks came to seek him (v 21) He knew the end was near for Him, as this signaled a final chapter to his public ministry to the Jews (v 23). He could have no ministry to the Gentiles until He died as a sin offering for them, as an imperishable seed that would bear much eternal fruit.

What a curious and shocking message this would have been to the inquiring Greeks. If they sought Jesus simply as another Caesar, with similar royal pomp and ambitious military strategy, they were sadly mistaken.  For the first time and ever since, this was a Kingdom that would be invincibly advanced not by protecting the King, but by the murder of the King.

The Lord they were seeking came to carry a cross, not a crown. He was a Servant who would be subject to a terrifying crucifixion, not a coronation.

Such biblical paradox has been too much of a stumbling block to bear for many a modern Greek inquirer.

If that wasn’t disturbing enough look at how Jesus applies this message to his hearers. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in the world will keep it for eternal life.” Or in other words, Jesus said, “If you claim Me, your life will look my life.”

The follower of Christ, the “Christian”, must hate his life “in this world.” This is not a call to some type of introspective self-centered self loathing. This is a call to bury and hold a funeral for one’s inherent love for the world and its possessions, pleasures, riches and rewards. Even good things may stand in the way of the soul’s prosperity (true biblical prosperity). They must be counted as a hated enemy for the sake of the love of God. The man who loses everything gains more than everything.

The world has been “crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). The world system is dead. It has no power over me. It no longer has the right to fascinate me with its temporal trappings. How does a dead man respond to a dead world? True, prosperous, eternal life is found in the answer.

As JC Ryle once wrote:” The way of self-crucifixion and sanctification may seem foolishness and wasteful to the world, just as burying good seed seems wasteful to the child and the fool. But there never lived the man who did not find that, by sowing to the Spirit, he reaped life everlasting.”

Maybe a more accurate modern Christian moniker would be: “God loves you and has an agonizing plan for you life.”

It was the life Dietrich Bonhoeffer alluded to when he said, “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.” It was the life of the early Christian dissenters of Roman Paganism, the early Protestant rebellion against Roman legalism, and now it is the life of the current non Western underground church world-wide.

Jesus unequivocally promised us two things: Eternal life and a Cross.

Brothers and sisters, what more do we need?

What more do we want?

What more do we have?

Bryan Daniels

Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

29 thoughts on “The Secret Success Of A Hated Life”

  1. Your right brother, we are quick to respond to Eternal Life but when it comes to the cross, well that is where we draw the line. Awesome post!

  2. Great site. Great post. Well written. Especially like the title of your blog,… essential message of faith in itself.

    Thanks for visiting and ‘liking’ my Lenten devotional posts. Let us all acknowledge our death to Sin by smoking the pipe of Peace; through which we inhale and share the Holy Spirit.

  3. Reblogged this on Justification by Grace and commented:
    I happened across this excellent article through my friend, mtsweat, of “Resting in His Grace” blog. Thanks, MT.

    Chief of the least, a 1689 London Baptist confessionalist, smacks a homerun into the parking lot with this particular article. I’m now following Bryan’s blog, following him on twitter, and will be receiving email updates. You may want to do the same… that is, unless you don’t want to be reminded that, in view of Christ infinite righteousness, we are all the chief of sinners and the least of all saints.

  4. Dear Chief,

    I like how you get straight to the heart of the issue! Your message here is completely at odds with the society in which we live, yet it is the message of Christ! It’s easy to “fall in love” with various aspects of our society and culture – food, money, drugs, power, sex, etc. – but you have reminded us that each of these is a literal “dead end”.

    Your post reminds me of 1 Corinthians 6:12 – “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

    We sinners so readily and willingly enslave ourselves to all kinds of things our society tells us are “really good”. These things are not evil in and of themselves, but our sinful strivings for them is evil. These things will lead to pain and suffering.

    Thank you for your encouragement to recognize these things for what they are, reject the power we can allow them to wield over us, and stay strong in our faith in Christ – no matter what – because we know what the ultimate end brings!

    In Christ,
    Corey Aker


  6. Hi,

    I came here because I saw you had visited me. I read this post and was happy to see not everyone buys into the TBN type of Western Christianity. I personally feel that the church has for the most part left the gospel for some other gospel, which Paul would say is no other gospel at all. It is encouraging to see (at least in this post) you were spot on.

    1. Hey Glasseyedave,

      I think you’re on to something here. That being said, it is then the responsibility of those who have not abandoned the Gospel to shine it all the brighter, especially as our society (both outside the church and in) becomes all the darker.

      In Christ,
      Corey Aker

  7. Reblogged this on Brush Arbors and commented:
    “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)

  8. Love it!

    I feel this way everyday, longing for my home – hating my life on earth – yet sharing Christ as we ought. I put a link on my blog to this awesome message. Thank you!

    And thank you for visiting my blog, and “liking” my article.


  9. Amen! I find it saddening how so many Christians cling to the things of this world like they are the plugs to their life support systems. Since I started forsaking the “pleasures” of this fallen world for the pursuit of God I have been far more fulfilled and productive. It’s amazing the amount of cuddling the church does with the briers of “modern living comforts”.

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