June 7, 2021
By: Pastor Jim Cords

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 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. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. -Philippians 1:21-26

“I desire to depart and be with Christ.” Do you ever wonder about yearning for heaven? I am not asking about wondering what heaven will be like. I am asking about the desire to be there instead of here.

On the one hand, it really does make sense that we teach and believe that heaven is a better place where there is no more sorrow and no more tears. Why would we not prefer to be in a place like that?

Well, Paul’s reason is “fruitful labor.” Paul and we are called as ambassadors of Christ in the world. God’s calling on our lives is to serve the world in His name. This calling is even more powerful when we acknowledge that neither we nor the world we serve deserve it. Often we face disinterest or even opposition or hostility. Yet, we are followers of Jesus. We have a purpose and calling to share the grace and truth of Jesus with the world even if they do not want to hear and receive it.

I think one of the powerful notions in this text is a recognition that Paul’s submission to God includes putting his own desires behind the desires of God for him. Perhaps this is true worship. 

Both Romans 12 and James 1 suggest that our true worship of God is expressed in being a living sacrifice in service to others. 

“Lord, what is before me that I might experience your purpose in my life? Where can my life mean fruitful labor? I am yours, and for your sake I am available to serve as you desire. Amen”

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