Bible Reading: Philippians 1:19-26
“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 my life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20-21)
Following Christ means we are called to be radical. Yet what are we meant to be radical about? We are called to radically treasure Christ above all so that God is honoured in both life and death.
Notice how Paul parallels life and death in both verses 20 and 21. Verse 21 gives the reasoning for verse 20. If we only the ‘death’ clause separately, we get: “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 honoured in my body, by death, for to die is gain”. Paul explains what he means in verse 23, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better”.
Let’s be real with ourselves. Who amongst us can say that we will receive our greatest joy when we die? Who can really say that death is gain? To all of us, death is a loss because we lose all the things that make us happy. We lose the comfort of our friends and family. We lose our future dreams of marriage and a bright future career. We lose the temporary highs of playing games and watching movies. Think about this deeply. If you were to die this very moment, would you actually be happy to receive Christ and Christ alone?
To be wholly satisfied in Christ alone does not come naturally to us. That is why Moses cried in Psalm 90:14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” We are called to radically seek to treasure Christ above all things. We are called to radically seek a change of heart that prizes Christ above our friends, family, future, marriage, hobbies, games, movies, a desire for attention, lust, self-exultation, pride.
If we take the ‘life’ clause, we get: “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 honoured in my body, in life, for to me to live is Christ”.
This means that we are called to count Christ as gain not only in eternity but also here and now. How do we view each day, and how do we view the purpose of our future days? To live radically for Christ means that each day’s business is to know Christ, to treasure Him, to love Him, to serve and labour for Him.
To treasure Christ daily means that when the world entices us with a lifestyle of enjoying ourselves with vibrant social life, endless holidays and play, we say, “no, these things are good, but this is not what I seek”. We go home and treasure Christ. We turn to His Word, knowing that He is the one who can satisfy us.
More than that, we learn to love Him each day by serving and labouring for Him. Paul explains in verse 22, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me”. Paul’s joy on earth is to labour for Christ! His daily business of treasuring Christ was evident in how he loved the churches and sought the best for them. Paul lived his days in obedience to what Jesus had called him to do, to preach good news to the Gentiles.
Is obeying God’s calling our daily business? Do we wake up each day and ask ourselves, how can I obey God today? How do we see our futures? Do we ask God, “what do You want to do with my life?” and then walk each day, taking small steps, to fulfil God’s plan for our lives?
To supremely treasure Christ and obey Him is what it means to radically follow Christ. This is worship, and this is the end goal of our lives. Are we living out our radical calling?
Lord, have mercy on us. Teach us to follow You radically. Teach us to worship, to treasure You supremely in life and in death, and to obey and follow You all our days. Forgive us, for we find it so hard to find our truest joy in You. Change our hearts, wean us away from the world and forgive us for our sinful and idolatrous desires. Remember Your steadfast love and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and have mercy on us. In Jesus’ name, amen.