Thursday, January 29, 2009

Living in Christ for others.

Philip. 1:12-18 (ESV)
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, [13] so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. [14] And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Philip. 1:19-26 (ESV)
for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, [20] as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. [21] For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [22] If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. [23] I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. [24] But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. [25] Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, [26] so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 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.” I sometimes wonder what Paul meant by asking which shall I choose. Did he really think he had a choice? I don’t think he did think he had a choice. But he was using this phrase to show the win win situation of the Christian, the win win situation that he was in. He was facing possible death. The Romans were not as tolerant of religion as Christianity has made modern sensibilities in the west to be. (Really, Christianity is often seen as being intolerant. But the idea of freedom of religion is a Christian idea. It stems from the Christians perception that the gospel cannot be forced on a person. Other religions can be forced on people though. The Romans were good at forcing their state religion, the cult of the emperor, on the people. They would put people to death for being Christian. It is unfortunate that the Roman’s held onto this intolerance of other religions when the empire became “Christian.”)
But now Paul is facing a win win situation. All Christians face this. If we die we live with Christ, so we have no reason to fear in life. If we live we can live in all boldness for Christ, not fearing death. Living we bear fruit for Christ. Not because we have too, but because Christ works them in us. We rejoice in this. It is a great thing.
“To live is more necessary on your account.” Paul lives to serve others. He lives to their benefit. This is true of all Christians wherever we are. For to depart and be with Christ is far better for us than remaining in this world, we have no reason to remain here for ourselves. But we do remain to serve others, family, friends, coworkers, customers and so on. We have no reason to fear death, and yet in others we find every reason to live. We have reason to live, because others need us. We have reason to live when we consider the love of our spouse, and the future of our children. We have reason to live when we consider the communion of the local congregation and the support we can give it in being a witness to the community of the love of Christ. We have reason to live when we think of what we can do for others while we live. So we live not for ourselves, but for others because Christ died for us.

4 comments:

steve martin said...

Thanks for a great Word of encouragment.

Although I'm not in danger of losing ny head (in the physical sense), I do realize some of what Paul speaks of.

Sometimes the troubles of this world and the promise of Paradise in the next, make me desire a quick exit. That's God's call of course.

But, in the meantime, there are people to serve and fish to build.

Bror Erickson said...

And friends to pick up from the airport.

steve martin said...

You wish!

Gotta drive out to Lancaster now. Noit looking forward to it.

Gotta do it. No ice...at least.

Bror Erickson said...

Lancaster,my old stomping grounds. I don't know why you wouldn't be looking forward to it. It has a lot to offer. Joshua trees, sand, tumble weeds... your choice of gangs to hang with... and streets with no names.