Posted July 29, 2013
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
These simple yet intense words were spoken by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi, of which we will make two observations:
1. Christ should be the singular focus of our days.
Paul declared that “to live is Christ”. This “singularity” of vision was not be something unique to Paul alone, but rather the cry of every Christian! What do you live for? All of us live for something; there’s no such thing as “neutral” living. Every human being rises in the morning, conduct their affairs, and plans their lives seeking a particular end: a comfortable life, a thicker wallet, fame in the eyes of society, power in business, a happy marriage, etc. None of those things are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but if they are the one thing that orders the rest of your life, then ultimately that good thing is taking the place of God and has become an idol. Paul teaches us that the one thing that he lives for is Christ. Jesus himself said in Matthew 6, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness...” May Christ be first in our living, and His kingdom supreme in our pursuits!
2. Death is gain for those who live for Christ.
Not only does Paul live for Christ, but because he lives for Christ, he’s taken on a new view of death! Death is typically seen as an enemy, not a friend; it’s often perceived as the dark end, not the bright beginning. Something about Paul’s perspective caused him to see not only life differently, but his view of life also transformed his view of death. He declared that death was gain, not loss! Paul viewed death as the portal to something better. What was the better thing awaiting him? Christ Himself. He would finally be in the presence of the One who lived for on earth! Christ is better than (fill-in-the-blank). For those who’ve been born again comes the promise that to be absent in flesh (death) is to be present with Christ. What a joy!
Not only is this great news for the born again Christian, but there’s a harsh and painful implication here as well. For those who do not live for Christ and know Him as King and Savior, death is not gain but rather a loss. To be absent from flesh is not to be reunited, but rather separated from Christ. Those who do live for Christ should hear this and tremble and in turn call out to those living for other gods and “things” to turn to Christ and live for Him! Christ died for us that we might have everlasting life. All other things we thought would bring us happiness were mere appetizers, never able to fully fulfill us! Jonathan Edwards stated it this way: ”Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the ocean.” For more exploration of this subject, check out Donald Whitney’s chapter in his book “Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health” (http://amzn.com/B001C369DQ) which asks “Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?”
Song - Ryan Gikas
Production - Dustin Ragland
Artwork - Chris Wright (http://creativewright.com)