Sunday, March 3, 2013

...To Die Is Gain

I wrote this post a few days ago when feeling pretty down.  However, I edited it this day (3/3/2013) before posting it.

Right now, I just want to forget about how that verse in Philippians 1:21 begins, which is "For to me to live is Christ."  Rather, I want to skip to the end of that verse, and the title of this blog post, "to die is gain."  The conclusion of the next two verses speak to my heart at this time as well: "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 want what is far better!  I'd rather skip life on earth and rest eternally.  Sometimes, a worldly existence seems like such a trivial and vain striving after the wind.  Am I depressed?  Or am I just tired of ‘chasing the wind?’  I wonder for a moment, then realize my focus is off.  Yes, at times like this I just want to die and get it over with.  The struggles of this world hardly seem worth it.  I think, "What a contrast it is between the magnificent Kingdom of God versus the puny kingdoms of the world!"  I think, "My desire is to depart, for that is far better." 

But, I soon realize that what I really want is to "be with Christ."  Simultaneously, I know with confidence that I can do that here and now.  Even better, I can be in Christ, and He in me, and we in the Father, sharing the same Holy Spirit, His gift to those who believe.

Should I not suffer as Christ suffered?  I don't mean physically.  I mean the loneliness of mind and social rejection that result from separating from the world and its ways.  I understand we are on the battlefield right smack in the middle of enemy territory, an enemy who is the prince of the power of the very air we breathe.  But, suffering is difficult, even impossible, without Him.  I should expect to suffer with Christ.  After all, who am I to escape this suffering and think I can share in the fullness of His glory?

What am I to do?  To make life as a Christian soldier tolerable, I need to constantly align my goal with His, which is to bring many sons into glory.  I need to diligently devote myself to seeking deeper understanding of His eternal purpose, which He has revealed to us in the Mystery, and that through Christ, and by the power of His Spirit, grasp what are the awesome dimensions --breadth, length, height, and depth-- of His glorious plan for those who are called according to His purpose, that we may be filled with all the fullness of Him, and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. 

Oh, how I want this!  Knowing Him and His plan quickly transforms the idea of making life 'tolerable' into one of becoming utterly joyful.  His word is able to lift my heart into the heavens and rejoice, again I say rejoice, that my citizenship is with Him, my eternal inheritance is secure, and that He is motivated by unadulterated love to lavish grace upon grace towards me that I may love Him and be in Him until He makes His home with me, even while I walk this earth.

Maybe, I should concern myself with Paul's conclusion, not his opening remarks. For he completes this dilemma about life and death in Philippians 1:25-26 like this, "But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again." 

I don't know who, if anyone, will read this post.  I also don't know whether or not it will make a difference in anyone's life but mine.  But if you, O reader, should be even slightly inclined to look into these things yourself, be encouraged that this is a noble thing indeed, and that your seeking will be rewarded.

Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly than all that we ask or think or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)

Amen: So be it! So let it be! And so it will be! (Clark)