What does it mean to live for Christ? The Bible, specifically in the New Testament, highlights the type of life all Christians are to strive to live upon their conversion. The apostle Paul, a man with an extraordinary conversion story, writes in his letter to the Philippian church, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” But what does this mean, exactly? What should this look like, practically, in the life of a believer?
Let’s work through Philippians 1:21 backwards, beginning with “…and to die is gain.” If you are in Christ, you have the hope and assurance that this life is not all there is. There is life after death because Jesus Christ eliminated the power of death for those who follow Him. His resurrection assures us that we, too, will rise after death to live eternally in the kingdom of God. When the apostle Paul claims “to die is gain,” he is right. For every Christian, death unites us with our Lord and Savior, face to face, forever. How much better it would be to dwell with God in His kingdom forever rather than in this fallen world; but Paul explains that this is not for us to decide. He acknowledges that he was still on earth because there was work for him to do. He was to continue ministering to the Christian churches. So while it would have been Paul’s desire to leave earth and live with God in heaven, he knew God had a purpose for him on earth. It is the same for us. If we are on earth, we have a purpose here. We are here to further His kingdom – to live for Christ.
This brings us to the first half of the verse: “For me to live is Christ…” A Christian’s reason for living is Christ, and Christ alone. This needs to translate into the life of a believer, no exceptions.
So what does that look like? It means that Christ is first, always. There is no one or no thing that should replace Him as first in that person’s life. It means that the believer is wholeheartedly devoted to advancing the will of Christ and not his or her own. This is often harder than it sounds; we all have our own plans and ambitions, and of course, working toward those goals is important. But if the reason for living is Christ alone, these goals have to be committed to Him. Ladies, we need to be praying toward the will of God and not against it – “not my will, but Yours be done.” We need to be immersing ourselves in His word daily to understand His will and seek the power of the Holy Spirit to empower us to do His will.
Again, this is often much easier said than done. I have noticed this to be the case, especially among Christians who are involved in politics. Politics can be all-consuming. We often become engrossed in fixing the evil within the political landscape rather than remedying the evil in our own hearts. In addition, we can too easily point to the brokenness of the system without recognizing the maladies in ourselves. We criticize the argumentative, polarized world we live in while simultaneously contributing to it by neglecting to change the divisive nature of our sinful ways.