Better by Far
Read Philippians 1:23-24 (ESV)
I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Do you agree with Paul that, as believers, death is even better than life? Why or why not?
If you found an “elixir of life” would you drink it? I know I wouldn’t! Like Paul in today’s verses, I am looking forward to eternity in heaven. I don’t want to live forever here on this fallen Earth! My life is good. I have surely been blessed. But I know eternity with Jesus will be even better!
Literature is full of legendary tales of people pursuing immortality. People are obsessed with the idea of finding a way to live as long as possible or cheat death. Some have even resorted to cryonics–having their bodies frozen when they die. They want their bodies to be preserved because they believe in scientific advancements that might result in their resurrection someday.
But we haven’t placed our faith in fictional elixirs of life or in pseudoscience scams. We don’t hope that we might be resurrected one day—we know we will be resurrected one day. Even better, we know that the moment we die, our souls will be with Christ! We may have to wait for our resurrected bodies, but we don’t have to wait to be in the presence of the Lord. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He reassured one of the criminals beside him that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that very day (Luke 23:43).
Paul understood that for believers in Jesus Christ, death isn’t the end, because death means a new beginning in the presence of Jesus. Paul had endured many hardships. He suffered terribly for the cause of Christ. He was more than ready to abandon this world and its troubles and go home to be with Jesus.
But Paul wasn’t suicidal. He wasn’t depressed. He knew that as long as he had breath in his lungs, God had a purpose for him. It was not God’s will that Paul should die just yet. That’s why Paul said that it was more necessary for him to remain on account of the Church. His brothers and sisters in Christ in Philippi still needed him and it was God’s will that Paul remain a little longer to serve them.
Though Paul was looking forward to eternal peace and rest in the presence of Christ, he was also committed to his work in the Lord. He dedicated his life to spreading the message of the Gospel and making disciples of Christ.
Friends, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are certainly looking forward to life forever with Him. But there is still much to live for. Even though we long to be with Christ, let’s make the most of the life that He has graciously given to us. If we’re still breathing, if our hearts are still beating, let’s do as Paul did and dedicate our lives to the service of Christ and the message of the Gospel. Let’s bring glory to God and be a blessing to others.
Lord, I long to be with You. I know that life with You will be infinitely better than life here on Earth. And yet, You have a purpose for me here. You have blessed me with people to love and serve. Give me the courage and strength I need to continue to do Your will all the days of my life. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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