There is a shocking mindset that must grow in us as disciples of Jesus:
For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain… My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Phil. 1:21, 23)
Do we look at death as gain? Is our desire to depart? Can we honestly say that we would rather be dead? The more emphatically we answer ‘no’ to these question, the more we reveal how little we know Jesus. The more we know Him the more we pang to be with Him. We can’t help but lunge for Him – even toward the direction of death. And the more the Lord renews our minds, the more we can see that we lose nothing and gain everything by dying. Going through death means entering into life that is more solid and real than our life here on Earth. Ergo, dying and going on to real life is ‘far better.’
We live in a land in which we are strangers. We hunger for something we’ve never had, wounded by a weakness we know is not meant to be ours, and haunted by mysterious, faint memories of a time and place when it was not so. We live in a time and space of momentary affliction, but we were made for eternal glory, wholeness and rapture. We are (and cannot understand ourselves as anything but) pilgrims. We are ‘on the way.’ There is an inherent ‘not yet’ to our situation. To finally arrive home would most certainly be ‘gain.’
This is the mind of a disciple. Radically different from the wisdom of the world, this mindset doesn’t come naturally. But it can refocus life in such a marvelous way. Here’s how:
The fact remains: we aren’t dead. That must mean that it is not God’s will for us to be dead yet. Though He wants us to come home and be with Him, He is waiting. And if He is waiting, it’s for good reasons:
- He wants to prepare us, to get us ready to go home.
- He has some definite and important purpose for this very short time until He calls us home. He has some mission for us to carry out.
Think of how much this simplifies life in an overly complicated world! Orienting our lives around the (not depressing at all!) fact of our coming death gives life a crystal clear vision. It fills it with purpose. God doesn’t just haphazardly do stuff; every single day He keeps us on this side of death for a distinct reason.
So we don’t have to fritter around trying to find careers, projects, plans, passions, experiences and relationships that will make our life here perfect. We don’t have to worry about missing out or even ‘making the most of our lives.’ Instead we need only concern ourselves with doing what Jesus wants us to do, because we love Him and want to praise Him. And, in the end, if/when we make it home to be with Him, our life will be a smashing success, regardless.
So for now, pilgrims, let’s gird up and live for the King and carry out our mission until He calls us home! Let’s stay close to Jesus, for the more consistently we live in that relationship, the more we can be sanctified – made ready to see Him face-to-face – and the more we can discover our purpose and mission each day.
Isn’t this shockingly countercultural and amazing: you will die… and that is really good news.
- Jesus wants to make you holy. Let Him.
- Jesus has some tailor-made mission for you to carry out. Live it.