As We Tarry Here and Long for There #2

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23,24 KJV).

Before we go on to the next world, we must tarry in this one….

After the deaths of Christian loved ones, it is not uncommon for other Christians to wonder why Jesus Christ does not quickly take them home to heaven so they can be reunited there. Christians often desire the Lord to “rapture” us all out of here so that we do not have to experience the dying process. In doing so, they miss the reason why we are still here on earth.

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul admitted that he was in quite a similar dilemma. On one hand, he was in horrible living conditions—a prison cell in Rome—for preaching an “illegal religion.” On the other hand, he was literally headed for heavenly bliss for trusting Jesus Christ, the central Person of that “illegal religion.”

Verses 21 and 22 elaborate: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.” Paul knew that if he lived physically, it was actually Jesus Christ living in and through him. He knew that to die physically was “gain,” for he would be free from sin and thereby able to serve Jesus Christ in heaven. Yet, Paul also knew that if it was Jesus Christ living in and through him, the “fruit” of following this “illegal religion” was the very prison cell in which he sat while writing that epistle to the saints at Philippi!

Why did Paul not know which option—life or death—he would choose? Having been in heaven years earlier (2 Corinthians 12:1-7), Paul knew the glories that were there. Paul undoubtedly knew “to be with Christ [was] far better,” but, there was something far more important at the moment, and he was aware of it….