Taking a good look at this passage it reminds me of a hike going up the side of a mountain on a trail. I would pack a lunch, or that is what I would call it, some trail mix, a sheathed knife in case I would encounter an unexpected encounter with whatever might deem it necessary to harm me, some water, and the appropriate clothing for the ascension of the journey to the top. I’ve noticed that there is not one trail, anywhere, whether it be on a mountain, along side a river, and even just a short cut, there really isn’t a straight way to get to any place you may want to travel to. Even if the thoroughfare appears to be straight I can almost assure you that there will be encountered a right or left turn. Whatever you attempt to conquer you will not get there straightaway. You will struggle; there will be twists and turns to get to your destination.
The apostle Paul is expressing his determination, and consuming devotion to Christ. He now encounters an obstacle, but he’s thinking about others. He embraces this feeling and knows it is his because of his call of duty to stop and work. His traveling supplies are much the same as I, or anyone else would pack. I’m sure he packed a supply of food, and nuts. Having a sheathed knife would also be common on his trip.Water and appropriate clothing had a vital role on his missions. Notice the similarity of his preparedness for his journey compared with ours; it’s no different. His generation was encountering life as we do today. Granted, our technology has had major advances in time, but the basics are still the same. In all senses in which you can use the words, Christ is this man’s life.
Paul tells of his dilemma in verse 23; ” I’m in a straight between the two, …….. “. He alludes to the fact that the Christian life is a life lived on a higher plain than those lived by those in the world. So who are we living for? A life such as this has a purpose, and not aimless. It’s a life that finishes and has it’s element of existence in Christ. He speaks here of those who are insincere and contentious. The apostle is speaking to those whose lives appear to be predominately in Christ, but NOT wholly. However, he is not morbid in relating death to a conclusion of his presence amongst us. He looks forward to that glorious day when he will be forever with Christ, and all the heavenly hosts. He is content to be in this world, but his ambition is Christ.
There is nothing evil with the life we live in the flesh, but death, to the Christian who loves Christ will gain so much. He does not diminish the Christian compared to that of the Christian death. He explains how the Christian death is much more than much better. Death brings the Christian in very presence of Christ in an instant. To Paul, He speaks of the Christian death like opening a door and having full knowledge of what’s behind it. Now, if Christ be life, we have no expectation that death would bring us any advantage. If God ordains life, it is a grace to live and not die. He chose us to announce His good news to the world and in this way it is a blessed service that our Supreme teacher, and Creator has appointed for us to attend to. Notwithstanding, be the death of a Christian so desirable, It’s the fault of our own doing if the happiness of life does not more than counterbalance the trial of it.
How often have we heard people try to persuade us to do and not to do? I myself have turned my head and walked away in the past. I didn’t know, then, I prevented, your’s truly, from receiving more heaven here on earth. To die to this life in this world means nothing, and the life I lead will not change the course of anything in, or on this sphere in the cosmos. The contrast the apostle is painting is unless we allow Christ to take up residence, within us, death will be that unknown abyss that we dread. Unless we provide for the sanctioning of Christ’s residence we are doomed for the second death. To be perfect is not the sum of our life, but the remittance of our own will to do Christ’s bidding is the solution. Heaven comes to us when the door to our heart opens to let Christ in to take up residence; He will be there to help us to make the right decisions, and directing in which way He wants us to go. Compared to any achievement to be gained here in this world, what better achievement than that of having heaven on earth and having much more of it at death.
” TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND DEATH IS GAIN “. However, a comparative that this world holds in view details something totally opposite of the view the Christian holds of this world and death. This is a party world, a place for good times, always; to die is to smother any joy. The thoughts of one plunging into the I don’t realm, and coming to face the where I am going is unknown. The flesh enjoys the life of indulgence of luxuries of our senses; to die is the destruction of all that gratifies them. To live is affluence in what all are coveting; to die would be to have all this taken by others. To the flesh to live is having a successful business, competition, prosperity ( sounds familiar ), power, fame; and to die, well, all that is lost. Meanwhile, the Christian life prescribes us to give up all our wants; the death to self. To them this kind of life is hard; it is the endurance of the privacy of one’s life centered only on the life of Christ. The endurance of poverty, and pain: that is much worse than the love of prosperity, power, fame, competition, and the lusts accompanied with what this world has to offer. There is an undefined horror attached to death. For that which a man loves supremely is that for which he lives – money, fame, pleasure, & etc.
Our deduction comes from two questions that are raised, ” What is the true object of life “?, and, ” What is beyond life? “. It is this very proclamation declared here that these questions are answered. To live is Christ: a life dependent on Christ like a child to their head of the household. This dependence is constant; humble; trustful; invisible, but real. It is a relationship with Christ; as between two friends. It is an elevated devotion to Christ , as servants to a magnificent and loving master.This embraces all callings known to mankind without prejudice. Christ is all and is in all, and wants all to be in Him. No matter how, or what you want to believe, Christ is Lord of all. Christ has the keys to Hades, and still prepares a place for those who believe in Him. To whatever destination we enter in the end the complete, and glorious manifestation of Christ will be realized by all.