20 Apr LIving Life in 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 are the words the Apostle Paul writes to the Christians at Philippi. They sum up his concluding thoughts after his struggle between whether he prefers to be with Christ by dying or to remain living for the sake of the ministry to which he has been called. Don’t forget, Paul writes these words from a prison cell and realizes that death is a real possibility. Like many of us, when death is a real possibility, we start thinking about what that will be like. Is death something we are afraid of? Are we confident about what will happen after we die? If given the choice, do we prefer to “just get it over with” or do we long to live here as long as we can?After life’s struggles, are we tired and “ready to go home” or are we willing and able to continue to battle while we still have breath?
These are honest questions and real struggles. They are conflicting emotions and thoughts that we may have and others we know may have. Paul helps us to navigate through those times when we are conflicted about this life and the life to come. Paul admits that for him to die is the easier and more desirable way forward. These are not suicidal thoughts or thoughts that come from someone battling depression without any hope. These are rather words of hope and certainty. Paul knows that if and when he dies, he will “be with Christ”, and for him “that is far better.” So here is Paul’s hope and yours; when you and I die, when we depart, we 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.”
But for now, we live. We live here amidst the joys and hardships 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, 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. When this is the focus of our attention and energy, we 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. 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. And when it is time, he will keep his promise to bring us home into His presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11).
n the name of Jesus, Amen.
-Pastor Darrin Sheek