For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. -- Philippians 1:21
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Threading the Needle
The words Paul uses are related to money and profit. It you have sufficient capital you can live on the interest. The greatest riches imaginable are ours in Christ. Here is capital to provide a more than sufficient living, an abundant living.
It also works if we turn it around and recognize that while we live in this world, it is we who belong to Christ as His servants over whom He rules but also for whom He obligates Himself to provide and for whom He cares.
The second part of the Apostle’s thought is perhaps even more compelling. The carnally minded have invested everything in this world and this life. Death, to the worldling, may be seen as an implacable enemy to be held off and frustrated as long as possible. It means the loss of all that is familiar, comfortable, and hopeful.
As Christians the truth is that we not only lose nothing when our time here ends, we gain because we are no longer receiving merely our stipend or our living but our full inheritance of and in Christ. You can think about someone who has set up a trust for his heirs. Their access is limited until they are of a specified age, perhaps 18 or 25, after which they have full access. They gain by passing that milestone.
On the one hand the carnal mind considers the trials, pains, losses, and sufferings of life against the darkness of death and recoils. After all, as the Preacher said, a living dog is better than a dead lion (Ecclesiastes 9:4), and to cling to the known, however desperate and grim, is better than the black leap into oblivion. On the other hand, life without hope can become an unbearable burden and the prospect of any kind of surcease is embraced. Thus the natural man must sail carefully between Scylla and Charybdis.
The contrast is that, instead of a choice between the lesser of two evils, the Christian is “caught” between goods: the joys of life in Christ on earth with all of its hope and adventure, and the perfection of glory, the fulfillment of all hope when we see the Lord face to face. Passing through the door of death, at the Lord’s call, we leave all temptation, sorrow, grief and pain behind us. We have duties and callings and purpose while we are here. When those are done, like the faithful workman at day’s end, we receive our reward and our rest.