Tomorrow, I am doing a funeral for a man who would have turned 85 today. Due to health reasons, Donnie hasn’t been able to worship with his church family for a little over a year now. His spot in the sanctuary is usually unoccupied Sunday mornings. As I have meditated over the past few days as to what the Spirit would have me share, He continued to draw my mind to a statement that the Apostle Paul made in his letter to the Philippian believers. This statement is part of the passage from which I preached this past Sunday, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. And I have discovered that when I cannot get a particular passage out of my mind, the Spirit is behind it. So, I’ve learned to stop trying to move beyond it and sit and ruminate.
Paul’s statement is found in 1:21. This is how I have translated it: “For to me, the act of living is Christ and the act of dying is positive gain.” If the act of living meant wealth, power, self-gratification, and the like, for Paul, then the act of dying would loom in front of him with terror. But for Paul, the act of living means and is Christ. He is one with his Lord. And Paul knows that death itself cannot break this union; it can only make it more complete because death means actually being with Christ.
How often do Christians live to protect, or maintain, their lives and how it is currently constituted? Many Christians are shackled to life in such a way that they are not free to live with abandon, to live for Christ. They hear the call of Christ to go here or do that, yet they are afflicted with the same disease as was Moses – “But” disease.
God: “Moses, I want you to bring my people out of Egypt.”
Moses: “But I’m a nobody.”
God: “Tell them it is Me who has sent you.”
Moses: “But what if they don’t believe me?”
God: “You will be my mouthpiece.”
Moses: “But I don’t speak well at all.”
“But” disease is all about finding “reasons” why one shouldn’t do what God has called him/her to do or go where God says go. It’s purpose is protecting and maintaining the status quo, one’s current reality.
Instead of protecting and maintaining his life, Paul actually looked forward to death with joy and anticipation. He didn’t fear it because he knew what death meant – having his union with Christ made complete. Because of this, he was released to live as Christ directed. Even if Christ intended for Paul to live this present life a bit longer, Paul was good with that because, remember, the act of living for Paul is Christ. He was prepared to experience complete union with Christ upon death, but he was also prepared to continue on in this life if that’s what Christ decided.
What is presently shackling you to your current life and the maintaining of it? Is it financial? Is it quality of life? Is it something else? If Christ called and directed you to go to a place or do something that meant turning your life upside-down, would you do it? Or would you be demonstrating symptoms of “But” disease?