Wednesday, 8 October 2014

To Live Is Christ

One day during some Bible study I read Philippians 1:21 which reads,

"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

I've read the Apostle Paul's words here many times before but for some reason they really stuck out to me on this particular reading. I started to think about how profound his statement is and it acted as a reminder to me that as a Christian, I need to be giving the reins of my life over to God on a daily basis and sacrificing any selfish ambition.

When faced with the challenges of life, my desire to try and control things can sometimes creep in and so to read that my life belongs to Christ is a great reminder that He is in control. My reason for living is not to pursue my own agenda but rather to make myself available to God and let Him use me in whatever capacity He sees fit. It was like a gentle reminder to desire God's will and His plans for me above all else in life.

I then went on to think about the second half of the verse and how it really contrasts with the worldly view of death. Death is of course a painful and devastating part of life for all of us but the secular view is that it's the end of the journey and the beginning of oblivion. At the very least death is viewed as entering into the unknown.

Not so for the Christian however as we read in this verse that for those who have put their faith in Jesus, to die is gain! When Christ is who you live for then death doesn’t separate you from Him, it takes you to His side. 2 Corinthians 5:8 confirms this when it says,

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Whatever we may serve in life, if it’s anything other than Jesus then death will bring an end to it and we’ll experience it’s loss. If we live to serve money then we’ll lose it the moment we die and it will belong to someone else. If we live for fame and glory that too will be forgotten in time and we’ll have no connection to it in the afterlife. If we live for our relationships and family members then sadly death will bring an end to that too.

The only one who can actually say they have anything to gain when they die is the Christian. Only the person who has said “To live it Christ” can say with any assurance “To die is gain.” The power of these words really spoke to me. It got me thinking about how we have Heaven to look forward to and eternal life in the presence of Jesus! A very different view point indeed.

Paul's words certainly reflect my heart's desire to be with my Saviour but of course it's not a battle between life and death in this verse but rather a comparison between serving Jesus in this life and then being united with Him in the next. It's the joy that the Christian has in using their time on Earth to serve God combined with the promise and assurance of enjoying fellowship with Him in Heaven. Before long I found myself writing this little poem to capture my thoughts and feelings.
"To live is Christ, to die is gain.” The challenge of this statement!
To live to serve another's name when "self" wants no abatement.
To live is Christ! Not "me" nor "I," not "mine" nor selfish will.
To live is Jesus, God on High, His purpose to fulfil.

Yet once a sweet surrender's found what offers more reward
Than feet that walk on solid ground in service to our Lord?
What purpose could be greater or what calling more divine
Than one to our Creator stating "Not my will but Thine?"

Then comes the second trial where we hear "to die is gain."
When the hands upon the dial stop, will we feel the same?
For all who said "to live is Christ" can die with true assurance.
Their perfect Saviour sacrificed can give this reassurance.

Our lives on Earth are all we know yet weakness ends when Heaven bound!
The Christian gains in letting go, a notion that is most profound!
Though ever willing to remain, in life and death we worship Him.
This hope our spirits can't contain, to be united with our King.

1 Thessalonians 5: 9-10

"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."