Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
Philippians 1:18-26 (NRSV)
What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.
If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 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 for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
This letter to the Philippians was written by the apostle Paul. In Paul’s numerous letters we see the beginnings of the Christian Church, meaning that a greater distinction was being realized between Judaism and the new law of Jesus. In this chapter in particular, Paul writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This text provides us some insight into what very early Christians thought about life and death. Paul’s words suggest a growing awareness of a sort of reversal of death. In other words, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection death no longer had the final word. For those that followed Christ, the very meaning of life and the very meaning of death are flipped on their heads. To live fully is to act like Christ, and to die is to live with Christ forever.
This text really emphasizes the role of the human body in working towards “fruitful labor” and “progress and joy in the faith.” The way Paul talks about the body in this letter reminds me of this verse from his letter to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” In both letters, readers are encouraged to live in good faith. The Philippians passage nudges us to ask ourselves: How are we using our bodies to reflect Christ? What choices are we making in our lives to exalt God?
Holy One, we ask for your guidance and patience as we discern the ways in which we can honor you. We desire to live lives that show your love to others and to ourselves. We thank you for all you have done for us. Amen.
Go with God!