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Two Kinds of Life

• Shane Hipps

Jesus tells us to hate our life in order to keep it, and if we love our life, we’ll lose it. Guest speaker Shane Hipps shares with us what life Jesus wants for us. He also talks about his personal experience with the Anabaptist tradition.

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In John 12:25, Jesus is making a distinction between two different kinds of life. The first kind of life comes from the Greek word Psyche. Psyche refers to the things that happen in your life; to the ever changing circumstances such as our job, living situation, stress, and problems. The second kind of life, Zoe, refers to a deeper and more stable kind of life.

To explain it in different terms, Psyche is the clouds while Zoe is the sky. While the clouds change, the sky stays the same. If Zoe is the ocean, Psyche is the waves and surface of the sea. While the top of the seas toss and turn based on the circumstances, the depths of the ocean have a cocoon-like quality to them. If Zoe is the sun then Psyche is a picture of the sun. If we look at the picture expecting warmth, we will surely be disappointed.

Whenever we run into the word Zoe in the New Testament, we often find the word eternal before it. Zoe has a quality of being outside of time. In Western thought, we usually think of eternal as the thing that happens after we die. It stretches on forever and ever. But it means much more than that. We experience eternal things all the time. When we have a phone conversation that seems to fly by, we experience that outside of time. When we get a phone call from a doctor and wait for the results, we experience that time as much slower than normal. It is outside of time; Zoe.

Jesus is calling us to let go of our Psyche in order to gain Zoe. We often look to the Psyche kind of life to be our foundation. If only we can get that job we want or have that one circumstance change, then we can have peace in this life. But Jesus is telling us to look beyond our circumstances for the stable life. The kind of life that Jesus offers can’t be found in our circumstances. Rather, it is the eternal life that doesn’t change and is full of joy and beauty despite our circumstances. And it is available from the day we are born and not the day we die.

Shane shared a story where he was very stressed about his future and was feeling anxious. His father asked if he could pray for him. After a few moments, Shane started crying and felt a release from the burdens. It felt like everything changed, but nothing had changed. Shane just finally tapped into the Zoe life that Jesus wanted for him.

The trick to having the Zoe life is practice. It may start out difficult, but connecting with Zoe by surrendering your old life needs to be a habitual practice. God wants you to connect with him and his joy despite circumstances. He wants us to put him first and everything else second, not because he’s egocentric, but because it is better for us to do so. He wants us to find warmth from the sun and not from a picture of a sun. He wants us to feel the calm of the depths of the ocean and not be tossed about by the wind. God wants us to have Zoe.

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Topics: Hope, Love, Peace

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Focus Scripture:

  • John 12:25

    Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

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10 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Life

  1. Gopher says:

    Keys to unlocking some of the practical mysticism in the New Testament. This guy could have burnt at the stake 500 years ago, with his approach to “eternal life” that departs from traditional dogma. Good stuff. Very thought-provoking.

  2. Michael says:

    What an incredible message and one that is so simple to share with others in the world. Be the lit candle and go out and light other candles.

  3. Dave Pritchard says:

    “Holding your belief in a non-violent way” – What an absolutely beautiful thought!

    Oftentimes when we are wronged, ripped off or are offended grotesquely by something we feel deeply passionate about in our hearts, it’s so incredibly easy to have a Viking-like retaliatory mentality. Being a “peacemaker” requires a secure and vigilant sense of who we are in Christ, as well as an acknowledgment that your perspective is always limited. Someone once said –

    “For every minute that you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness!”

  4. Peter says:

    This is an interesting study….not only the content, but the failings of some Bible translations that do not show (in this case) the variations in the word “life”. It does show the value of having a reasonably good study Bible that would at least highlight this variation.

    Nonetheless the message in some way goes back to Greg’s message on Reframing where, like the 6th Sense example, you are presented with a different view of the verse which causes you to reframe your thoughts on the issue.

    As man was created in the image of God….then our “life” reflects an active God to the creation….as a relational being, as the trinity is relational within the Godhead….and in fatherhood where man was created to procreate and fill up the world with many sons.

    So even fallen man continues to reflect these traits to creation but in a corrupt form….he seeks to establish himself as the seat of power, has unnatural relationships and perverts true fatherhood.

    Therefore in some sense, it is the Church’s “life” through its believers, infilled with Holy Spirit, that should reflect true life to a fallen world….and on into eternity.

  5. David says:

    Great message!

    Shane’s ability to use analogies/comparisons to paint a picture (i.e. falling in love and talking on the phone for hours, the waves in the ocean, etc) really helped the message resonate deep within. There were many times when the light bulb lit up over my head, or as Greg has said in a few message, the “coin fell into the slot.”

    Now…time to practice, practice, practice.

  6. Pliny, the middle one says:

    Visited this week, good message.

  7. Susan says:

    As one who has suffered for 7 years with “mysterious” symptoms and pain in my body and felt it consume my life as there are few answers and little relief, I have come to realize that my body and it’s suffering has become a god…with power to define my everyday, and reshape my thought and choices. I see how many zeros are before the One in my life. Larry Crabb had taught years ago about the “second things”…Shane has shaken me up and fed the longing to live in the Zoe Life…the Life of the One. Hoping now, to be able to understand what that looks like when the first and last thought of everyday is the physical pain and how to deal/cope with it. I am convinced there is a way…just asking for the Way to be made clear.

  8. David W says:

    This message is in my “Top 5” sermons on the WHC website. I’m not sure what the other 4 are in my top 5, but this is one I can always remember the title, and I find myself coming back to periodically…that’s my post 3 above this. 🙂

    “Imagine” is another sermon that is in my Top 5…so there’s 2 out of 5.

    Sure would like to experience more of that zoe life…

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