Life and Death as a Christian

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The Doctor
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Life and Death as a Christian

Post by The Doctor » September 20th, 2017, 11:56 pm

This is something I've been wanting to write for awhile, and I'm finally taking the time to sit down and type.

Philippians 1:21. Wonderful verse. I've been thinking on it a lot lately. It, in essence, sums up our very existence as Christians on this earth. But, then again, plenty of other parts of the Bible do that. So why does this stand out? Well, to answer that, the verse needs to be broken down.

For to me

3 little words. That's right, I'm starting on these 3 words that seem to be merely introductory.

The current Thursday night Bible study is the book of Romans. Last week, I was asked to do something unusual. Scribe asked if I would keep track of whenever certain words showed up for the rest of Romans. The words were but, then, therefore, and for. This is because of how Paul wrote his letters, especially Romans. He wrote everything as being connected, and consistently built upon what he had already written. These words signified his continuation of thought to the next thing.

The word "for" starts out this verse. So, that brings up the question, why? What was he building on? That would be Philippians 1:20. Here we have some context, and it sets up for what comes up later in the verse.

It is also important to note the Paul is specifically talking about himself here. Paul, a man who may well have worked the hardest for the cause of Christ in the early church. Paul was, and still is, someone to imitate, someone to try to be like. We look up to Paul, wanting to be like him, because he wanted to act like Christ.

to live is Christ,

This is simply said, but hard to carry out. We, all too often, say we want to be a "good Christian." But then we get caught up in life. We have school, or work, or a relationship, or something else we just have to do. Then another. And another. And we never move past saying "I want to do this."

Here, Paul effectively said "Christ comes first in my life. Period." God is Paul's first and only priority is to the cause of the gospel. Everything else will then sort itself out.

and to die is gain.

This is where things start to come together. Here, Paul is speaking of heaven, and going to be with the Lord immediately after death (quick side note, this is generally regarded as meaning no purgatory. Sorry not sorry :P). That much, I would say, is fairly easy to get just at a glance. But, at a glance, you will miss something. The use of the word "and." Paul could have easily used "but" here instead, and it would have much better fit the context of him debating with himself as to whether or not he truly wants death later on in the passage.

Therein lies the problem with the use of "but" though. It would have made it seem more so of a one or the other situation. The word "and" connects everything, and I don't just mean the sentence. It connects the ideas that we are to live for Christ and that we will gain through our deaths. That we shouldlivefor Christ now, for we have a reward indeath.

To die for someone else has always been seen as incredibly noble, the ultimate sacrifice. But I feel that we, as Christians, may be putting too much emphasis on death/sacrifice to advance our cause (not counting the crucifixion of Christ here. That is another situation entirely).

But think about it. If death can be used to advance the gospel, how much more can a life do? We may say "I would be willing to die for Christ" and that's well and good, but the movie "Suicide Squad" got it right on the money on that subject. It's too easy. Besides, death is when we get to be with our creator, we get to leave this world of suffering (by no means am I condemning mourning those who have past away, Paul talks about that elsewhere). The better question is, "would you be willing tolivefor Christ?" For if God could use a death to advance the gospel, how much more could He use a life for?

I managed to use excuses like that for years. I would be perfectly willing to die for Christ. But an excuse is an excuse, I wasn't living for Christ.

I asked at the beginning of this why this verse stood out to me as a verse that embodies the Christian lifestyle. Simple. It looks at life as whole-hearted servitude to Christ, while looking at death as an inevitable and glorious gain for those who have accepted him into their heart.

I no longer want to say "I am willing to die" near as much as "I am willing to serve, all the while looking forward to death."
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NeoJabez
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Re: Life and Death as a Christian

Post by NeoJabez » September 21st, 2017, 12:40 am

Very nicely done, Doctor. :)
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If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you. - Anonymous

Coram Deo, Soli Deo Gloria

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Re: Life and Death as a Christian

Post by Kesarahk » September 21st, 2017, 3:02 am

The Doctor wrote: I asked at the beginning of this why this verse stood out to me as a verse that embodies the Christian lifestyle. Simple. It looks at life as whole-hearted servitude to Christ, while looking at death as an inevitable and glorious gain for those who have accepted him into their heart.

I no longer want to say "I am willing to die" near as much as "I am willing to serve, all the while looking forward to death."
So, this brings to mind two things. One is a quote from one of my favorite writers. The other is that, being absentminded earlier, I missed a chance to annoy Scribe. Here I make amends for the latter by sharing the former:
Spoiler! :
All sane men can see that sanity is some kind of equilibrium; that one may be mad and eat too much, or mad and eat too little. Some moderns have indeed appeared with vague versions of progress and evolution which seeks to destroy the MESON or balance of Aristotle. They seem to suggest that we are meant to starve progressively, or to go on eating larger and larger breakfasts every morning for ever. But the great truism of the MESON remains for all thinking men, and these people have not upset any balance except their own. But granted that we have all to keep a balance, the real interest comes in with the question of how that balance can be kept. That was the problem which Paganism tried to solve: that was the problem which I think Christianity solved and solved in a very strange way.

Paganism declared that virtue was in a balance; Christianity declared it was in a conflict: the collision of two passions apparently opposite. Of course they were not really inconsistent; but they were such that it was hard to hold simultaneously. Let us follow for a moment the clue of the martyr and the suicide; and take the case of courage. No quality has ever so much addled the brains and tangled the definitions of merely rational sages. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. "He that will lose his life, the same shall save it," is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so. But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying. And it has held up ever since above the European lances the banner of the mystery of chivalry: the Christian courage, which is a disdain of death; not the Chinese courage, which is a disdain of life.

-G. K. Chesterton, "Orthodoxy" (from the chapter titled "The Paradoxes of Christianity")
(Before you ban me, Scribe; nobody made you click. :biggrin: )
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