I have The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook on my bookshelf. From parenting slip-ups to surviving the holidays with your ex and from dealing with those first awkward conversations about sex to figuring out how to level up your golf game - authors Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht have helped millions of people casually (and seriously) prepare for life’s very real and unexpected events.
I mean, there’s a lot that can change our ideas of what life is going to be like, right? We’d be devastated if we unexpectedly lost a loved one. Our anxiety would shoot through the roof if we’d lose a job or other source of income. At any age, a health diagnosis can change the entire trajectory of your life. Worst things are often bad things. Scary things. Painful things.
What do you think is the worst thing that could happen to you?
Jesus has a response: you can lose your soul.
At one point, Jesus asks, “What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36, CEV/NIV).
Jesus asks this question in the context of helping his disciples understand the cost of following Him to the cross and eventually to the empty tomb. Bad things will happen. Bullies will come. Beatings will be given. Breath will be withheld. Yes - and you may even be abandoned (like an eternal quarantine).
But that isn’t the worst… at least for Jesus and His disciples. The worst is to lose their spirit. Their soul. The breath of God that lives in them.
Even Jesus - on the worst day of His life when He died on the cross as an innocent man sentenced to a criminal’s death - wasn’t the worst day for Him because He knew who held his spirit.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46, NIV).
Author and Pastor Tim Keller wrote a book titled, Counterfeit Gods. In it he defines an idol or “little-g” god as anything that we fear losing… the worst thing to happen. For some of us it might be losing a partner, spouse, or child. It might be losing income or retirement plans. It might be you being diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Those are all really, really, really bad things and would cause pain, heartache, anger, and all those things rational human fears, for sure.
Jesus says that the worst thing that could happen is to lose the hope we have in Him.
As I think about all the things that would be “the worst” things to happen… compared to losing sight that Jesus loves me and trusts me to use with everything He has given me to love Him back and others as I’ve been loved - they aren’t so bad.
Let’s continue to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.