Jump Start # 3140
Philippians 1:23-24 but I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”
The other day in worship we were singing the hymn, “I’ll live in glory.” The song begins, “I’d like to stay here longer than man’s allotted days…”. I sure thought about that throughout the song and even the rest of the day. Would I want to live here longer than man’s allotted days? I’m not sure what the allotted days might be unless it’s a play on Psalms 90 “seventy or eighty” years. I’d like to live here longer, the song says.
Here are some thoughts:
First, many do. I remember as a child hearing about someone who was in their 90’s and that was like Methushael to me. Hardly anyone reached 90. Now, that’s pretty common. I know lots of people who reached their 90’s. All of this eventually is to the design and plan of God. It is appointed to man to die once. That is a divine appointment. That’s one appointment we won’t be late for nor miss. The world measures life by how many years one lives. God measures life by what one has done with their life. John the baptist was in his 30’s when he died. I expect the apostle James was in his 30’s when he was killed. Living a long time but not doing much is not of any value.
Second, the sooner you and I are out of here, the sooner we get to be with the Lord. Paul understood that. Our verse shows the conflicting battle in his mind. Go and be with Jesus or stay and help the Philippians. This decision wasn’t his to make. The Lord would make it for him. The Lord takes us when He is ready for us. Paul understood that departing was much better. To depart was to die here. Paul understood what he was saying. But he saw that as a blessing. With the Lord, out of this world, away from the trials and temptations, a journey completed, a battle finished, a faith kept. Looking at it that way, Paul would say, “I’m out of here.” I know someone who always orders water when they are over at our place. Never tea. Never coffee. Always water. They are quick to say, “it’s good for you,” which it is. I once jumped into that line of thinking. It’s good for you, then what, I said. Then, you live longer, was their reply. Then what, was my reply. Back and forth we went, like ping pong. It ended with me saying, if I’m post 90, sitting in a nursing home, sucking applesauce through a straw, not for me. Supersize it. Get me out of this place.
Third, far too many Christians have a fear of death. They dread it and will do anything and everything they can to stay here as long as they can. Faith changes all of that. Knowing where our journey takes us ought to bring peace and hope to our hearts. This world can really weigh on us. There are so many things wrong. The stress, tension and heartache can be a real burden to Christians. Being with the Lord means no more fighting the devil. No more temptation to resist. No more having our souls tormented by wicked hearts.
Christians need to understand death. We need to preach on it often. We need to explain it clearly. We need to take away the fear of death. Death is a door, and only a door that we pass through. That door swings one way, but it’s merely a door that opens to a room in God’s house that we want to be in. We dream of Heaven. We sing about Heaven. Our favorite sermons are about Heaven. Yet, when one of us finishes our journey here and gets to go, it’s presented as one of the great tragedies of all times.
Fourth, if Paul stayed, it wasn’t for his safety. He wasn’t planning vacation trips. He wasn’t thinking about all the things he wanted to get done to his house. If he stayed, he would be busy in kingdom work. He’d be helping the Philippians get stronger in the Lord. Some want to stay here longer, just to avoid death. They have no plans of doing anything, especially kingdom wise, but they just don’t want to die. Paul didn’t care about death. He saw beyond that. Death is just a process, it’s not the end of the journey. Go and be with the Lord, or stay here, roll up your sleeves and do kingdom work. That’s what it was for Paul.
I’d like to stay here longer…not me. Let’s get to the other side where all will be right.