For to me, to live is Christ and
to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21 NIV
To the atheist, life beyond this earth does not exist. They live with the mistaken belief that power, popularity, pleasure and money can fill the place in their heart that is reserved for God alone. False religion also causes those who do not believe in the one true God to strive for an unattainable goal as they seek the satisfaction that can only be found in following Christ.
The Apostle Paul lived on both sides of the truth. First, as a devout Jew determined to rid the world of what he considered to be false doctrine spewed by a man named Jesus, he persecuted Christians. Later, after his encounter with the living Christ, he walked, talked, preached, lived and died for the truth of the gospel, the good news—Christ the Redeemer—then Paul became the persecuted.
Paul wrapped the marching orders for the Christian’s life in one short verse tucked away in a letter to the Christians at Philippi. He began his greeting with “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” and ended with “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” But in between those greetings of grace, his letter contained what may be the most profound statement by any follower of Christ, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
After his conversion, Paul’s life purpose was marked by his determination to boldly speak the gospel and to become like Christ. It cost him everything—including his life.
As I think about the life of Paul and other self-sacrificing Christians who down through the centuries have given their all, I understand how spoiled and lazy I, along with many of my fellow American Christians, have become. I see the result of too many years of ease and comfort. I fear the enemy has lulled us into a deep sleep. I understand that satan has coined a new term—politically correct—and many of us fear the consequences of being bold for Christ.
Every time he spoke the truth of the Gospel, Paul faced the reality of the consequences of being politically incorrect. Yet he spoke out boldly. Why—because, he knew the meaning of real life! Whether he lived or whether he died, he did all to the glory of God.
I pray that what I believe with my heart will resonate throughout my life and draw others to the foot of the Cross of Christ so that they may know the truth of life in Christ. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
© Joyce Powell