A Desire to Depart

I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Philippians 1:23–24, NIV)

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through” … So begins an old song about our relationship to the physical world — a relationship characterized by its temporary nature… and we really need to own that if we are to keep eternity’s values in view.

Even a cursory look at God’s promises makes this world seem small, our life fleeting and our sojourn important only in the light of Christ. Then why are we here? For one thing… it’s school… and for another thing, it’s work… but if we cling to these things, life will escape us… and we’ll spend our lives in fruitless enterprise. Paul describes the central conflict of living a Christ-centered life on the earth in the terms that he’d rather be home with the Lord… but his work is here in the meantime — which means that the “main event” is eternity with God… but which also means that our one shot at life is critical to his purposes.

Therefore, let us not underplay the importance of how we spend our time here. What we do here on earth — if done for Christ — will last for an eternity. Otherwise, it does not count at all (Mat. 7:21). Any souls that you usher into the kingdom of God are saved forever, any good works done truly for Christ earn eternal rewards — and God plain old honors faithful stewardship! (Lk. 16:1) But any time you spend on worldly things will be lost to eternity. This is why we must turn every thought into the captivity of Christ — not because we seek eternal glory — but because we will enjoy the effects of our labor for eternity. Meanwhile, all those hours spent in empty pursuits yield nothing.

Spiritually speaking then, living for Christ is the only logical course of action… and the Apostle Paul knew that. He considered himself Christ’s slave, and he determined to work for his Master until the day ended. Now, Paul enjoyed his Christian labors; he was honored to work for Christ. But he was also looking forward to the end of his labors — when his earthly works would be done. How about you? Are you enjoying the labor… but all the while looking forward to the end of the day?

If you find that you are not enjoying the labor… or if you find yourself afraid of death… then something is wrong. We were created for the yoke (Mat. 11:29), not ease. Therefore, we should take joy in the pulling… acknowledging, of course, that these tasks are not exclusively physical. God needs leaders, teachers, pastors, caregivers, etc. — jobs that are just as much work as their more physical counterparts. But whatever your task, you will only be satisfied if you are proceeding with God — and every day reveals more opportunities to be satisfied in him.

Adam, the first of us, had full days. He worked — but even before the fall. Work only “earned” its pejorative after the fall — when “the sweat of thy brow” aspect grew burdensome because of sin. But even in innocence, work was critical in Adam’s communion with God. Now, in this life, we will never re-capture Eden. But we can still connect with God’s original design by working for him… and he doesn’t ask much — especially considering all that he does for us. But God wants us to connect with all his purposes — including the labor — in praise and in thanksgiving. A connected Christian can look forward to the end of the day with a clear conscience.

(End). 

 

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