For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
I read this verse last week and cannot get it out of my head.
To live is Christ.
What does that mean? It means He is all we have. Everything else you can name is as fleeting as the blink of a life. To live is Christ means if we have Christ, we have enough. In fact, we have more than enough. It means we have everything. It means we are rich, complete, loved and valued.
While all of this was on my mind, someone sent me this:
10 signs you’re doing well in life
- You have a roof over your head.
- You ate today.
- You have a good heart.
- You wish good for others.
- You have clean water.
- Someone cares for you.
- You strive to be better.
- You have clean clothes.
- You have a dream.
- You’re breathing.
Now don’t get me wrong.
I know the spirit in which this was sent to me. I can check off all 10 of these items, so it was meant to cheer me and it was a great reminder of God’s blessings on my life at this current time. But this list only applies to me because Jesus lives in me (giving me the good heart) and because I live in an affluent society in America (giving me the rest of the list).
What about the poor? imprisoned? enslaved? persecuted? Their hope can’t come in the form of a list like this, so does that mean they can’t be doing well? I say all people can be doing well on an ultimate level, if not a present level.
For each of us, it has to boil down to this: If we have Christ, we everything.
I recently studied these verses about persecuted Christians included in Hebrews 11, commonly known as the Hall of Faith: There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. (35-38)
Look at this part: They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,
When I first read this, I assumed persecutors had placed the skins on them as punishment for being Christians. It’s worse than that (at least to me). Commentaries explained that these people were so poor as they fled and hid, that they had no clothes. So when they found untreated skins of slaughtered animals, they donned them as covering from the elements and for their nakedness. The stench. The blood. The mess. The humiliation. The desperation. I can’t imagine.
Now look at this part: the world was not worthy of them.
Truth is, these sheepskin and goat-skin-clothed saints were doing really well in every ultimate sense. They had Christ. In a blink of an eye, this life ended and they have been living their perfect eternity ever since. And how did God view them while destitute? The world was not worthy of them.
Here is one such person.
I read an article about a man thrown into prison for his faith. During his time in prison, R realized he had not fully placed his hope in Christ.
“That was the biggest experience I got from that, R said, ‘As Christians, we can build things without having our hope in heaven. We sometimes just want to see results in this world. Usually, that destroys us and the people around us.’ (The Voice of the Martyrs, October 2018, page 11)
So what do we do with this?
I think we do exactly what this verse says, to live is Christ. Even if our life happens to reflect a list like this, we need to toss the list. Jesus is enough. He is more than enough. In Him we have everything. We are rich, complete, loved and valued because of Him, not a list.
So this week I concentrated really hard on making sure I am doing well in life because I have Christ, and for no other reason.
Picture Explanation: Sometimes you have to go to a county fair.
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