In Philippians chapter one the Apostle Paul talks to his fellow Christians about how God is using his present unpleasant circumstances to advance God’s purpose to share the message of Jesus. Paul is in prison during a time when it is not safe to be a Christian. Yet he is speaking boldly to the guards and other prisoners about his relationship with God and how they can know the peace and blessing that he is experiencing. Peace and blessing? From inside the prison with the threat of being executed for not following the government approved religious forms Paul is at peace and even expresses how wonderful it is that God is using his situation to advance his Kingdom purposes. In verse 20 he says “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In a real sense, Paul had already lost everything but his life, so why not count that as lost too and speak boldly. Doing so risked the only thing he had left. Could we behave like Paul so that my actions demonstrated that I believed “to die is gain”. I hope I could, but I don’t know. We don’t live in a world where that threat is real for us in the USA.

What I do know is that I can live for Christ. “To live is Christ”. Few of us will ever come close to risking what Paul was. But we can live for Christ with the same boldness that Paul did. My prayer for the 45 years since I first trusted Christ has been Philippians 1:20-21. Not that I really think about dying for Christ – that is extremely unlikely. But I can live for Christ. I don’t want to be ashamed of Christ or my faith in any way. I pray that I will have courage to speak up and act in ways that show others my faith. I want Jesus to be exalted because of the way I conduct my life. My life is, at least conceptually, surrendered and lost like Paul’s but my plan is to do a lot more living. At times I am unsure what living for Christ looks like in each circumstance and I sometimes do not live up to this great desire and prayer. But like Paul – “I eagerly expect and hope” God can make this happen in my life. I bet God can make it happen for you too.

by Jim Roberts, Deacon

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