A beloved verse from Paul’s letters to the Philippians comes from the 21st verse of chapter 1: “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It’s truly profound. Living life on this side of heaven with everything revolving around Christ. Living for him, worshipping him, walking with him, been filled by His Spirit.
Every single day. And in living a life totally focused and dependent upon God, to die is gain.
For Paul, in spite of adversity and struggle, death wasn’t something to be feared because it meant that he was in the presence of the Lord. Knowing Jesus Christ as savior. Again, that’s a radical idea in our world. I think as Christians, we struggle to not be just as fearful of death as everyone else. But we have a God who has justified us of our sins. We have the Spirit internally witnessing to God. We have a savior who came and died for us. But perhaps because we get so caught up on what’s “practical,” that we lose sight of what is eternal.
To live is Christ and to die is gain.
If our entire life is devoted to Christ, to knowing him and serving him; then an even greater thing it is to actually be with him, to be in his presence. To be with him in a place where we don’t have the worries and stresses of everyday life. Where we don’t have illness or disease. Where there isn’t sin or hurt. But where it is enjoying fellowship with the Lord. How do you approach a verse like that? Do you think “amen to that.” Or do you struggle with that idea? I know I do sometimes. But I shouldn’t.
To be With Christ
I love what Paul says in the following verse.“If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:22-23).
I think it’s a reality that is difficult to embrace. Let us live lives that are so committed to Christ. That are so assured and reliant upon the gospel. That you are in such focused and daily pursuit of the Lord on earth that you know it’s an appetizer to an even greater feast.
The point certainly isn’t to undermine life. Everyday we have is an opportunity to know and serve God. Philippians 1:24-25 says”But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”
There is work to be done, as participants and members of God’s church on earth. We don’t live for the purpose of watching football and playing video games. Certainly we can do those things. But that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about serving the Lord and growing with him. Knowing God and making God known.
Joy in God
There are people who go their whole lives and have no interest in God. Maybe they say they believe in him. But he isn’t their hope for salvation. He isn’t the one for whom they are daily living and desiring to honor.But then they take it as a foregone conclusion that they will spend eternity with him in heaven. And people get mad that God wouldn’t just let everyone in. But if you’re interested in heaven, start pursuing God today. Start living for God today. Because we can know him. We can grow with him today.
The secular people who think they deserve heaven…really? Because heaven is a place that is all about God. And for those of us who are walking with the Lord, let us live lives today that are all about God. Let the profundity of that transform the very way in which you approach God.CS Lewis said: “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.”
Originally published on February 25, 2019
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