I’d like to continue our journey to unpack Paul’s worldview. Let’s read Phil 1:21-26, 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [you can feel the tension that Paul expresses here] 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
To live is Christ. This means while he is living, Christ is his goal. But to die is gain. That means this world is but a shadow. We have Christ in this life in part, but the full revelation of Christ will come to pass when we die and see him face to face. So to die is gain.
So why doesn’t God zap all Christians to heaven at the moment of salvation? It is because of the following verses. For Paul to live in this body translates to fruitful labor for others. And Paul is genuinely torn. To be with Christ in heaven, to receive the prize when he sees Christ face to face, is the ultimate goal. And this is better by far. But in the meantime, Paul concedes that for the sake of others it is better that he remain. Because by him staying longer, the joy of Christ will overflow to those Paul encounters.
To live is Christ, to die is gain was Paul’s worldview. What about us? To live is blank, to die is blank. How would you fill in those blanks?
To live is to graduate from Caltech, to die is a piece of paper in a frame. It’s sad to think that all your hard work will end up like that. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble. But this is reality in light of death.
To live is to gain a gold medal, to die is just an oversized piece of jewelry that I can’t take with me. In the end, everything in this world other than Christ and the souls of people will fade away so does it make sense to invest our entire lives for something that will not last? Because you can’t put a U-Haul on the back of a hearse. You can’t take your possessions or achievements or the little niceties of life with you after you breathe your last breath.
To live is family (and if you don’t believe in life after death), to die is tragedy.
How might some Christians fill in those blanks?
To live is to figure out life and receive as much blessing as I can from God for myself and maybe my immediate family in this lifetime, and to die is not something I am really that interested in discussing right now.
So think about how you would fill in the blanks for your life. Your answers will reveal your worldview. There is a direct correlation between what you believe, I mean what you REALLY believe and how you will live out your life for the next 40, 50, 60 years.
For many of us, myself included, our worldviews are very earthbound.
Esp. among young people, who wants to think about dying is gaining? Christ is important and I am glad I believe in him now, but I have my whole life ahead of me. I’ve got places to go, things to do. I went to a tier one school and now I have to make good on all the investments of time and sacrifice. I need to find a job that aligns with my potential, that stimulates me so I am not bored, but it can’t be too stressful because life is meant to be enjoyed. It’s a fine balancing act and we spend so much time and energy to carve out our little niche in this world.