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 NIV
To love your life is to lose it. And to lose your life is to keep it eternally. This seems like such a contradiction to how we normally view life. People who hate their lives are encouraged to seek counseling. Advertisers take advantage of our desire to love life, trying to convince us that the more, and better, things we have, the more we can love life. But here, as well as in similar passages in each of the other gospels, Jesus tells us just the opposite.
Jesus’ mini-parable preceding this is key to understanding what Jesus is telling us here. “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” You might, correctly, argue that a kernel of wheat does not die when it falls to the ground and is buried. But that would be to miss the point that Jesus is making. That kernel could cling to its life on the stalk, enjoying life in the warm sun and cool breeze. But, in doing so, it gains nothing. However, when it gives up its life on the stalk and falls to the ground, its life is reproduced many times over in the new wheat that grows from it.
So to, when I cling to this life, seeking to maximize it’s joy and pleasure, I will end up losing everything. Jesus calls on us instead to give up this life for him. To allow him to remake us and use us. And when we do, we will experience life with him, now and eternally.
Only by dying to this life, even while living in this world, can I experience eternal life.