“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)
Across the world there have been many people over the years who have given themselves for what they believe in. These last few months have seen many events in our own nation vividly illustrating this point. Take the attacks in Manchester & London or the rallying cry of either the political left or right as good examples. With tensions rising and global financial markets increasingly uncertain it seems unavoidable that we, as God’s redeemed people, remember our purpose.
So what exactly is our purpose? There are a number of things which we could sight here but I want to draw our attention to the very wonderful statement which Paul writes to the churches at Philippi to encourage them to live out the life of a believer.
It seems that Paul has in his mind two different times; the here and now and all eternity. As someone sent directly by his Lord and also with the blessings of his church in Antioch Paul knew that everything about his life was to be used in telling others about the Lord Jesus. Not only that, he knew that because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit he could never be separate from Christ. In a very real way Christ owned him for he had been united to him. Bringing the fullness of the gospel to others while we have breath is the one of the great purposes we have as disciples of Christ. So with all that we have and all that he has made us to be let us continue serving.
However, the present is not Paul’s only concern. He knows that to die as a believer means being with Christ, in the presence of God; we are united to him so we cannot be separated from him. This is a liberating hope speaking of a wonderful future where all believers inherit Christ, bringing glory to God forever. There may be great uncertainties, instabilities and tensions, but we take heart and learn from Paul. Living for Christ and dying as gain are not things reserved for the super hero Christian. These are realities for any believer trusting in Christ Jesus. Bringing glory to God now and eternally is our purpose, so we need to ask how we are doing that.
It is great that the song we used for the global hymn sing this year picks up on this theme and I simply want to finish by drawing us to some lyrics from this song….
For the cause of Christ the king, we give our lives an offering, till all the Earth resounds with ceaseless praise to the Son… Let it be my life’s refrain, to live is Christ, to die is gain, deny myself, take up my cross and follow the son
May we be these men and women and continue to deny ourselves till all the earth resounds with ceaseless praise to the Son