Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Paul’s devotion (Philippians 1:21)

Paul here summarises his outlook in these well-known words, ‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ The first clause in the sentence describes Paul’s devotion, and in writing it Paul was indicating what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. This is not the only occasion in this letter where Paul states his devotion to Jesus; for example, he says in 3:10 that his ambition is to know Christ (he is writing these words having been a disciple for over thirty years). Each disciple of Jesus can and should say, ‘For me to live is Christ.’

One deduction that we can make from Paul's words is that every disciple should live for Christ. Every person in the world lives for something or somebody. Some live for their work, others for their hobbies, others for their homes. (Perhaps we could write the clause out when we are alone: for me to live is _____.) Many of these interests are legitimate for Christians as long as they do not come before Christ. Living for Christ is the expression of our service for him, of our submission to him as our Lord and Master.

Further, we can deduce from Paul's words that every disciple will live with Christ. As they go about their activities for Jesus in obedience to him, they discover his presence with them. This is what Jesus promised in the Great Commission; he said he would be with his disciples wherever he would send them. His presence gives them comfort and companionship.

In addition, we can say that every disciple will live by Christ. He enables each of them to perform their acts for him. His strength is given to each of his people in order for them to live for him. Paul had known the help of Jesus on many occasions. Christ had assured Paul this would be the case when he was told by Jesus, ‘My strength is made perfect in your weakness.’

These are three reasons why a Christian is Christ-focussed. Obviously, his dedication is a response of love to the Saviour who died as his Substitute on the cross. Yet here is the crucial difference between Jesus and all other leaders who inspire people to build on their ideals. Jesus is the only One who is currently with and permanently helping all his followers. No other religion can claim this, no political philosophy can assert it. Jesus is unique.

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