What It Means To Live

When your world gets turned upside down it can leave you disoriented and afraid. You suddenly find yourself in a place you have never been, nor imagined, and everything you thought you knew gets called into question. That’s kind of what has happened with the sudden emergence of COVID-19 as a world threat. Our lives have either already been turned upside down by this new reality, or they are at the tipping point and it doesn’t take much for us to imagine what it might be like. We start asking the big “what if” question and it’s not hard to think it could come to fruition.

What if this crisis lasts for longer than a few months? What if the economy never recovers from its fall? What if all my savings are in jeopardy? What if I never get my job back? What if I get sick from the virus? What if I die?

These are all very real questions and we can either close our eyes and shut our ears and try our best to ignore them all, hoping it all blows over, or we can face them head on. I propose we do the latter.

As Christians we confess to hold to the truth of Scripture and its authority to govern over us. God’s Word should inform all we do and say. And so, with Paul we confess the following words from his letter to the church at Philippi:

For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain

Philippians 1:21

Maybe you have not yet reached the point in your life where you totally believe Paul. In fact, I doubt there are many of us who truly understand what his words mean. They are the definition of radical and to the limited understanding of the flesh they are utter nonsense. Nevertheless, it should certainly be the aim of every Christian to be able to affirm what Paul says. To do that, we need to be able to see life as Paul did, or rather, as Jesus did. For that to happen, sometimes we need God to reach out and flip our world upside-down.

Many a Christian rides through life on relatively calm seas and never asks big questions about God and faith and death. However, if you are blessed God will put something in your path that completely confounds you and leaves you feeling exposed and scared. For Paul, that was his dramatic encounter with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. For us, perhaps it might be the dramatic surge of COVID-19 which forces us to look again to Jesus with new eyes and call into question our path in life.

With the threat of losing our job, savings, health, or well-being, we have the opportunity to see Jesus in a new light. If we lose all, or most, or even some, of our earthly wealth and comfort could we possibly join Paul in saying: For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain? Might we begin to understand what Paul was saying? Might we see the dross of the world as incomparable to the riches of Christ?

As I mentioned above, Paul’s statement is ridiculous, at least to the understanding of the world. It takes a mature, Spirit-filled Christian to see and believe the depth of that statement. I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. But perhaps having the world turned upside-down by a tiny virus will help me make some more sense of it.

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