Philippians 1:21-30

“For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.” 

 

“Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”  Philippians 1:21-30

 

Life is hard.  Even as a person of faith, life is hard.  Even when just about everything is going well in our own personal lives, our hearts are always going out to someone else who is suffering.  (For that is the beat of a Christian heart…when one suffers, we all suffer.)

 

But here the Apostle Paul isn’t speaking out of depression or despair – “my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is better” – he just wants to see what is behind the curtain.  He wants that day to come when faith won’t be needed because we will know as we have always been fully know.  That day when hope won’t be necessary because our deepest hopes will be fulfilled.  That day when only love is left.  Forever.

 

I want that day too.  I look forward to all of that…or whatever will be.  If I didn’t believe in life after death, if I didn’t believe in the resurrection, I wouldn’t do what I do.  I would be, we would be, foolish.

 

But Paul knows he still has work to do.  “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.”  People depend on him.  He has a calling to fulfill.  He is living God’s holy purpose for his life and that is all Paul can do.  The rest of the stuff, the ever-after stuff, is up to God.  For now, Paul must do what only Paul can do, for the good of all those yet to come.

 

It is the same for us.  Only we can do what only we can do.  One day at a time.  One step at a time.  One action at a time.

 

Knowing all of this puts life in perspective.  Changing a baby’s diaper takes on a certain holiness, a “give us this day our daily bread” kind of spin.  Selling one more item that will be useful in the life of someone else.  Listening, just now, to a hurting friend.  All of it, every moment of every day, is one step closer to that day at the end.  But there is no way to get there without all these little steps along the way.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, may we be persistent and faithful, even in the face of all that is hard and discouraging.  Thank you for the promise of eternal life and for the reality of that eternal life breaking into the little moments of each day between now and then.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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