"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
We live in a day in age in which quack psychology reigns. So-called experts in the field of psychology tell us to think positively and that all negativity should be erased from the mind. Positive thinking, they say, leads to positive outcomes, and positive outcomes leads to happiness. This is also a central tenant of Zen Buddhism, which has undoubtedly impacted modern thinking.
The day in age in which Jesus lived was no different than our own, for there is nothing new under the sun. The Greek and Roman pantheists promoted the same type of worldview that is being promoted today. However, Jesus told His disciples that the person who loves his life will lose it, whereas the person who hates his life will keep it for eternity. What does Jesus mean by this statement?
Those that will receive eternal life are not people who spend their Sundays on the ball fields or doing other trite and vain things. Those that will receive eternal life are not those who seek to accumulate wealth and material possessions. Those who will receive eternal life are not even those who devote their whole lives to charity. What Jesus means by this statement is that those who will receive eternal life are those that do not love this world or the things in it. His people must live in this world, but they are called to be set apart from it. They mus recognize that this world is fading and is only temporary. His people must also recognize that they are aliens in this world, citizens of a much greater kingdom. There is more to life than the things that the world calls good. Human life exists for the specific purpose of worshiping and glorifying God and serving Him forever.
Therefore, the one who loves his life in this present world is the one who will lose his life for eternity. However, the person that hates this evil and fallible world, recognizing his heavenly citizenship, is the one who will have his place in eternity with Christ.