Philippians 1:21 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
This verse is so famous that I almost skipped it, but it is certainly famous for a reason. Anyone apart from Christ cannot wrap their mind around it, and even for many Christians it seems an unattainable goal. However, it is reality for every believer whether we realize and/or trust it or not. Even if our faith is too weak to be free of the fear of death, if we are clinging to Christ alone as our Savior then we gain immeasurably when we pass from this life through death to life in Him. In some ways a more serious issue is how few Christians grasp the reality that they are Christ walking around in their daily lives. There is no pride in that, but it gives an awareness that God can and wants to use each of His children to do His will and to draw others into His family. If we fail to realize that “For me, to live is Christ” then we will fail to keep ourselves available to Him and we will fail to expect Him to use us.
Reading this just now brings to mind a man who died two weeks ago. His cause of death was pneumonia, but he had a type of senile dementia (not Alzheimer’s) that contributed greatly to his overall physical decline. He was never baptized and his funeral was Buddhist, but I still expect to see him in heaven, because very shortly after he was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago he sat across a table from me in our church sanctuary and said, “I want to cling to Christ.” To me that was a public confession of faith, and I believe our Lord received it that way. His death was indeed great gain for him, because it freed him from the physical and mental prison that had held him increasingly tightly over the years. The thing is, the same thing can be said of every believer who leaves this life. Even my father, who died at 64 while still in a very active career as a missionary, gained immensely by leaving his body behind. Many people indeed considered it a huge loss, but it wasn’t to him. It has been quite a few years since I was afraid of death, and I’m not sure I ever have been particularly, but like Paul I need to consider those around me who will be affected when I do die, and so live as a responsible steward of this body. I want to so live that wherever I go people experience Christ, not because I’m wonderful but because He is, and He is in me by His Spirit. I don’t want “For me, to live is Christ” to be just a slogan, but daily, practical reality.
Father, thank You for Your truly amazing grace. Thank You for the glorious reality of abiding in Christ and Christ in me. Help me live that out more and more, so that more and more people may be presented with the truth and challenged to repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!