17 Jun To Live is Christ
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on our account. Convinced of this, I know I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.” (Philippians 1:21-25)
These words hit home for me, especially the day after I attended the funeral of a dear friend who also happened to be my pastor, the Reverend Ron Hodel. Ron died in Christ; you and I live in Christ. He has gained; I now struggle with loss, along with his friends and family.
Ron believed what the Apostle Paul penned – when he died, he would “be with Christ”, and for him “that is far better.” So here is Paul’s hope and Ron’s and ours; when you and I die, when we depart, we too will be with Christ! No doubt! And this is far better, to be sure. This is a comfort; this is what our faith clings onto; this is the end of the story for all of us who trust in Christ as our Savior: “to die is gain” because it means to “be with Christ.”
Yet now, today, you and I live. We live here amidst the joys, hardships, and sorrows that makes up life this side of heaven. Yet for Paul, choosing life here was his willing choice; not for his sake, but for the sake of others. I think this is the key to living life here and now in faith, even when our days may be tiresome, painful, and heavy with burdens. We choose to live now, this day, not for ourselves but for others. This is love in action, sacrificial love; the kind of love that seeks what is best for others than for ourselves. This is the love that the Son of God has for us that drove him to a cross giving up his life that you and I may live and die in Christ. When this is the focus of our faith – not on ourselves but on Christ, we begin to see how God has us here for a reason other than for our own benefit; God uses us to bless others with the gifts he has given us. It may be as simple as praying for others, giving a loving and encouraging word to another person, sharing a personal testimony to someone in need about how God has loved you and blessed you in Christ.
My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus, for now we live; and we live in Christ, who is our hope, our comfort, and our joy, our forgiveness. While we have breath, may we live for others knowing that it has pleased God to have us here for now to be a blessing, a voice of the Gospel for another. This is the mark of living faith – faith being active in love. This was the mark of Ron Hodel’s life as a pastor, husband, father, brother, and friend. And like for Ron, when it is time, our Lord will keep his promise to bring us home into His presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11).
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
– Pastor Sheek