Friday, December 23, 2011

"For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain."

Phillippians 1:21 is a bold statement. A true one. I've been thinking about those words a lot lately. An old friend from middle and high school passed away in a car accident last Saturday. He was only 21 and my heart broke for his family. I went to his funeral Monday, not knowing what to expect. I could only imagine my own grief if it had been my brother or son. I was absolutely blown away by how Jesus was glorified in Justin's death. His family just kept declaring the Lord's goodness and that His purposes are higher than ours. Hearing his mom reassure us "Well if you know Jesus you'll see Justin again soon!" was such a testament to the hope we have in our Savior. The service itself glorified God and everyone in the room heard the gospel and was challenged to live their lives for Jesus. It was so beautiful to see the hope and peace that we have in Christ! It makes my heart rejoice despite the terrible circumstances.

It is incredible to see how God has used such a tragedy to bring people to Himself. I used to think God must be awfully selfish and conceited if His only concern is glorifying Himself and using us to accomplish His purposes. But then I came to understand that God is SO good, that it would be cruel of Him if he were to keep us from Himself. A favorite quote by C.S. Lewis says "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." He loves us SO much that He allows us to have a relationship with His holiness that loves us so deeply. The absolute best thing He can allow us to do is to worship and glorify Him, because its what we were literally created to do.

When the apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, he wrote, "For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain." The verse just keeps running through my head. It begs the question, do I really believe that? I do. I believe the last part. I believe that I would gain from death, because I know I would spend eternity worshipping Jesus in a perfect paradise with a Holy God beyond my tiny brain's comprehension. 

But, the first part... To live is Christ. Do I really believe that? Paul did. His entire life reflected his deep passion to live for Christ. He preached the gospel fearlessly, suffering persecution that as Christians in America we can 't even begin to imagine. But, do I believe it? Yes and no.... Yes, I am trying to live my life for Jesus. The desire of my heart is to live my life glorifying Him. But.... no, I must not really get it. If I really believed the gospel I would share the gospel without fear. I would love more deeply, and if I truly loved people I would tell everyone I know about the unshakable hope they can find in Jesus. 

I know its a little morbid, but it makes me wonder, what would my funeral be like? I don't know... my wish would be that hundreds would be in attendance, joyfully remembering how I lived my life for Jesus. My wish would be that the gospel would be preached and that people might come to know Jesus through my own death. But then I wonder... if I died tomorrow, would more people come to know Jesus through my death than through how I am living my life? 

That's a scary, convicting, question. And I just don't know the answer. I do know that until its time for me to leave this Earth, I am going to live my life with the hope that more people would come to know Jesus through my life than through my death. I pray that the Lord would use me beyond my imagination, but in order for Him to do that I know I need to get out of His way. I need to surrender my pride, my fear of man, my idols of self image and success. Paul understood the need to surrender. In Phillippians 3:7-9 he writes, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from following the rules, but that which is through faith in Christ." 

To live is Christ, to die is gain. I pray that we would all better understand the first part. 

Check out this awesome rap about the gospel, the good news of Jesus. 

And a song I'm loving lately...