Last week, we looked at the second half of the Apostle Paul's statement in Philippians 1:21 To live is Christ, to die is gain. The truth of that statement comes from our faith in Jesus Christ. We not only have the promise of eternal life with Christ after death, but it also gives a reason and purpose for our lives now. This week, we will look more about what "to live is Christ" means. But first, ask yourself how you would complete this sentence: "For me right now, to live is..." Would you say work? school? family? my friends or significant other? stress/anxiety/fear? to have fun, to be entertained?
How many of you can honestly say, "To live is Christ?"
I think the book of Philippians has three clues to what it means "to live is Christ:"
1) Philippians 1:27 "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Paul was in prison and wasn't sure whether or not he would be killed for his faith in Christ. So he writes to the church telling them that, whatever happens they are to live in way that shows that they are citizens of God's kingdom.
Do you live like a citizen of the kingdom of God or of this world? Do you live in a manner worthy of the gospel? We are to live in such a way to show that are followers of Christ and partakers of the good news. This good news is that there is a God who created us in love and sent His Son to rescue us from our sin and brokenness and to restore us to relationship. It is the good news that our value, identity and worth is in Christ and not in our performance.
When we live as citizens of this heavenly kingdom, we can live in the love and joy and peace that comes from Christ.
2) "To live is Christ" also is reflected in Philippians 2:5 "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:" Paul points to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of what it means to live an other-centered life. Philippians 2:6-8 is part of a beautiful hymn that describes the willingness of Jesus Christ to give up that which was rightfully his for the sake of others.
Because of Jesus, we can be free from just focusing on ourselves and our needs and we can lift our heads up and look out for others.
3) Lastly, "to live is Christ" in Philippians 2:14-16a "Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life." This admonition is especially difficult because our default mode is to complain when things are not going our way. The way Paul phrases this is a reminder of the way that the Israelites grumbled and complained to Moses when they were on their 40 year trek to the Promised Land.
But when we are truly able to do everything without grumbling and arguing, we will be different than everyone around us. May it always be our goal to point people to Christ. Peter phrases it this way in 1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
To live in this way is a high calling! Praise be to God that Jesus is not just a role model to try and emulate, but that His Spirit lives within us and empowers us to follow in His steps. And when we falter, Jesus Christ is our advocate before the Father and we receive forgiveness of our sins.
This week, will you ask the Spirit to empower you to have the mindset "to live is Christ?" What things is the Spirit prompting you to do? What things is the Spirit prompting you to stop?