To live is Christ – The implications of a life sold out for Christ
To live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21, NIV). Paul said this in his epistle to the Philippians. And during my church’s service last weekend, we showed a video testimony of Mr Jason Ong, co-founder of Olive Vines who suffered from a rare form of brain tumor. If you have 30 minutes, you might want to watch the video testimony as below:
To live is Christ
As I watched the video testimony, I found myself touched by the testimony. I was moved by the faith of this guy who just wants to serve God. Isn’t this the kind of life that we need to live? This is a life that is totally sold out for Christ. If I may put it, can we really live like how he did – to disregard his own personal discomfort for the sake of Christ? For those who have done a book study on the book of Philippians, this is precisely the kind of spirit that Paul hoped to exhibit and impart to the folks in the city of Philippi.
Reflecting on this, I have a few thoughts that I hope to pen down:
1. We need to have the perspective that dying is not the end
In some sense, Philippians 1:21 epitomises our status of dual citizenship. We are firstly “citizens” of this world but also concurrently citizens of God’s Kingdom. But Paul did not perceive this as a dichotomy. This is because it boils down to his passion to pursue Christ, which is his singular passion. And Christ, in this verse, summed up the whole range of his relationship with God: personal devotion, commitment, service, the gospel, ministry, communion, inspiration, everything.
And it does not mean that dying is the end. For Paul, if he continued to live on, he was able to pursue the purpose that Christ has given him – that is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, dying is merely the beginning for Paul. It is the time when Paul reunites with Christ, receiving the final “well done, my good and faithful servant” from Jesus.
Jason Ong mentioned this in his video testimony. And the same sentiment flowed through him. Dying is not going to be the end. This should necessarily speak to us. How many of us are able to view our Christian life from such a perspective – that dying is not the end? What if one day we are called to declare our loyalty for Christ and die? Many of us probably have not given this much thought and it reflects in the way that we live our lives. This brings me to my next point.
2. Our circumstances do not determine how we serve God
At the time of writing, I am leading a small group in church. And in this group, there are about six couples. Of the six, there are three couples who are relatively engaged in their own lives. One is currently ruled by their children and parents such that they decided that they will not attend church. This is even despite the fact that we are meeting in the neighbourhood for our small group meetings. Another couple got too preoccupied by their dogs so much that their lives now revolved around the dogs. And the last couple got too engaged in their studies that they find no time to serve God, even though they used to serve more when they were younger.
In the three examples that I have given, I observed that immediate concerns resulted in them eventually fading their service to God. While I do not necessarily believe that they no longer believe in God, it is clear to me that the concerns have distracted them. It makes me question if our immediate circumstances really determine how we serve God.
Looking at Jason Ong, he represents the other extreme. He started his own business with his wife. A rare form of brain tumor threatened to kill him. He would rather live in pain and be able to preach and teach, when offered the option to have a complete surgery that will result in him losing his speech functions. This is the kind of life, as I reflected, that I hope to exemplify to the people around me.
3. Live a life sold out for Christ. Really.
And the kind of life that I hope to live is a life totally sold out for Christ. I once told my wife, that the milestones that meant much to me for our relationship are the ones when we served together in greater capacity. This is not a joke, although she wanted something more romantic. This is because this is a life I hope to live for God – an unrelenting and resilient one which will not falter.
But this sounds easier said than done. In the case of the three couples I mentioned, I am sure they face their own challenges. And I know I have mine and will have more too. But how about deciding right now that we will embrace the mantra of “to live is Christ”? Allow God to challenge us in a way that we know our loyalty in Him is steadfast? For me, I want to live such a life that I can tell people on my deathbed that I have really run the good race and fought the good fight.
To my brothers and sisters reading this post, I pray that we can all live a life that is totally sold out for Christ. Jesus is the one and only cause worthy for us to die for. He is also the one and only cause worthy of our pursuit. I pray that I can remain steadfast till the end, and you too!
Now, share with me your thoughts on the video and what you have learned in the comments. I reply to all of them.