8:36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 

Who wouldn’t want, if they had the chance and the power, “to gain the whole world”? What could be more appealing than gaining “the whole world”?

The problem is that, if I gain the whole world, I risk losing my “Life”. The external, material, circumstances of life lived on this horizontal plane, which Jesus calls the “world”, is not Life. It is just the surface of Life. It is nothing but the changing circumstances of day to day existence, the flotsam and jetsam bobbing up and down on the ocean of Life.

This “life” fails to reach the dimensions of full Life. I may have an avalanche of stuff or an endless CV of achievements and accomplishments. I may be powerful, materially wealthy and famous. But, in the absence of the depth to which the Spirit calls, all my abilities, achievements, acquisitions, and accomplishments mean nothing (Ecclesiastes 1:2-11). No matter how elaborate they may be, they are mere sandcastles built near the edge of the ocean.

My sandcastles may be tremendously impressive for a time; but the tide is coming in.

Jesus is reported in John’s Gospel to have said, “I came that they may have Life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). It is possible to have “life” but fail to have “Life… abundantly.” If I have “life” but lack Life, I have nothing.


How do I see this distinction between “life” and Life? What does it feel like to have “life” but lack “Life”? What helps orient me towards Life?

Vasnetsov Last Judgment