A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery. You shall not murder. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother.’ ” He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But when he heard this, he became sad, for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”
Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not get back very much more in this age and in the age to come eternal life.”
Then [Jesus] said to them all, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit them if they gain the whole world but lose or forfeit themselves?”
I think oftentimes we who have grown up or sat under church and perhaps evangelical teaching have more or less assumed that losing one’s soul has to do with the outcome after death in the heaven/ hell scenario that is told. But might I suggest, that losing one’s soul begins in this present life, hinging on decisions we make?
When we are caught up in this or that, and especially in what is classically called “the seven deadly sins,” say, even one of those, then we are in danger of losing our souls, our life, our true self. Greed is especially dangerous here, and it can include all, but especially seems dangerous to those who have more material wealth.
Jesus makes it an either/or in the above passages and elsewhere time and again in the gospel accounts. You either follow him all the way, intent to do that, or you don’t follow at all. There’s nothing in between. Having said that, just like the disciples of old, it’s not at all like we who are followers are not going to struggle, and sometimes fall into the pit of a diminished or lost life. We do. But our advantage can be that we know better, that through prayer and confession of sin, we get up and move in the right path again. Growing in that. Intent on that. Through God’s grace and help. Finding our true selves along with everyone else in our finding of Jesus.