To Live … is Christ

February 6, 2022

To Live … is Christ

Passage: Philippians 1: 21 For me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
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Paul has a fistful of famous sayings.

To the Corinthians, he wrote, “Now these three things remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

To the Romans, he wrote, “I am persuaded that neither life nor death, nor angels or principalities or powers, nor things present or things to come, nor height or depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

To the Galatians he wrote, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, for all are one in Christ Jesus.”


In this little letter itself, consider these:

“Have this mind in you which was in Christ Jesus.” 2:5.

“Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice.” 4.4.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  4:13

These are worthy of the attention they receive, and they certainly are worthy of a sermon once a year. But to this collection we can add this one: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

This short verse calls us to consider our purpose in life, our reason for being, why we are here, and what must I be or do to hear those words on the great judgment day, You done good!


These dozen words speak to us today. They invite us to say, for to me, to live is …. What?”

Paul says Christ Jesus.

This we can understand.

He was single and never mentions a thing about a family.

Paul was a convert through a personal appearance of Jesus the Risen Lord. Few, very few, people have had such a gift. If Jesus himself appears to you and tells you what to do, it is easier to sum it up like Paul did.

And one more thing: Paul was convinced that the end of the world was imminent. He mentions the soon return of Jesus at least three times, once saying I am convinced that God who began a good work in you will complete it so that it is finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

He says elsewhere, We are eagerly waiting for Jesus to return as our savior.

Toward the end of the letter, we writes simply, Remember: the Lord is coming soon!

That reality would have effect of clarifying things. Like being in a building when it catches fire—suddenly, you have one and only one goal in life—to get out, alive!!

These three elements of Paul’s situation make his clarity, his certainty, his conviction easy to understand, and hard to relate to!!

We have families. We have no appearance of Jesus himself. We are not so convinced that the end of the age is just around the corner.

But we also want to feel deep in our bones that we are being the person God created us to be, that we are doing what God put us on earth to do, that we are living out our calling from the Lord Jesus Christ.


Some people dismiss such an idea.

There is no God. There is no God to call you to do anything or be anything. And if there is a God, what makes you think God cares about you, knows about you, has a plan or purpose for your life?

Many people feel like this, think like this, speak like this. Although researchers reported this week that the community of atheists worldwide is shrinking, and the communities of believers are expanding. Religious faith around the world is on the rise.  People are searching for purpose, for meaning, for significance.

We also look into the night sky, as the ancient psalmist did. We see the stares and galaxies, the black holes and the great expanse of emptiness. We also ask: what is it all about? Who are we?

But something in the human spirit keeps bubbling up, keeps poking through the doubt, the skepticism, the mystery of it all to ask this question: why are we here? What is the meaning of it all? Where is it all going? What is life all about?

We are here today to worship God, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from among the dead, and to testify to this: there is a spirit in us stirring around. There is a longing in us that wants to know.

There is a voice in us that calls out to us from the deepest places of our being, from the far edges of the universe, and from the highest heaven.

There is a presence, a power, a person. We want to know more. We want to feel more.  We want to live more. We want to live with more purpose, more clarity, more significance, more impact.

It is not more power we want, or more money, or even more happiness. We want to live like Jesus Christ: knowing our values, our purpose, our mission.

We want to be able to say: to me, to live is Christ!


A few years ago, mission statements were all the rage. Corporations and Organizations paid consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars to help craft a simple, comprehensive, and compelling statement.

What is our business? What are our values? What is our chief product? What impact do we want to have? JetBlue: To inspire humanity, both in the air and on the ground.  Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.  TED: Spread ideas.

I like that last one. Two words. It is very similar to the one-word mission statement of Paul the great apostle: Christ!

Churches got into the act. For several years, this was the focus of church retreats and conferences.

Last year, we spent some time with a slogan, a brand.  We came up with SING FOR JOY, LIVE WITH HOPE. I like it very much. It is a kind of mission statement. It is a brand.  We have put it on cards. I hope we have put it in our hearts and in our habits.

Even families and individuals joined the pursuit of a mission statement.

One family worked together to create their mission statement: In the Andrews family, our mission is to arise each day with grateful hearts and smiling faces, determined to glorify, serve and trust in God. We live by the highest standards of moral character and integrity. We love, respect, encourage and defend each other. And we’re noble stewards of the resources entrusted to us.

Whether young or old, a mission statement might be a powerful and practical strategy for you and your family. Perhaps just you, or perhaps your extended family, or perhaps children and grandchildren.

Here are some helpful questions to ask.

  1. What is important?
  2. Where do I want to go?
  3. What does “the best” look like for me?
  4. How do I want to act?
  5. What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind?

Most mission statements are between one and three sentences, never exceeding 100 words. The best mission statements are typically a single succinct sentence, so keep this in mind when crafting yours. But I still like the brevity of that itinerant missionary: Christ.  To me, to live…is Christ!


Some live without purpose or meaning or motivation.

This emptiness often dissolves into desperation, despair, and utter defeat. People feel worthless and hopeless. They contemplate suicide. Even successful people go down this road.

Elijah the great prophet of God was overcome with despair. He gave up his public ministry and retreated to a cave. It is the sign and symbol of many who followed in his steps. Retreat into a cave. Cut off communication. Ignore friends. Dwell on the loss or defeat or hurt.

Many today are mourning the loss of Australian skier Brittany George. She was only 24 years old. The aspiring Olympian was found dead in a Brisbane neighborhood in Queensland, Australia, on January 27. In a podcast, she described her mental and emotional state:

“It has literally been my whole life, I’ve been ‘the athlete’ from when I was 2 until when I was 20 or 21,” she said. “I did not have an identity. I was labeled ‘the athlete’ from a very young age and just rode with it.”

I put everything in,” she added. “My injuries [and] my schoolwork went second-hand, everything went second-hand to sport…It was absolutely all or nothing. You’re an athlete but who am I? Who am I as a person? Who is Brittany? I don’t know that…I struggle every day to know who that is.”


Some people are like Brittany. To me to live, is sports, the NBA, the Olympics.  To me to live, is music: singing, performing, even achieving fame and fortune. The Voice!!


You might have to confess: to me to live is family: my children, my grandchildren. Everything I do is for my family.


Some people dedicate themselves to a cause: freeing the slaves or saving the planet. Others to an organization: even the church!


Many of these come from a good place deep inside of us. A place full of love and compassion, a place overflowing with justice and peace.


The mission statement of Paul gathers up al the good stuff inside of us, all of the best intentions and noble desires, all of our human obligations and Christian expectations: gathers it up into one word—CHRIST.


To me, to live is Christ.


To live in Christ, so that my destiny is bound up with Jesus Christ. Where he is, I am. Where he goes, I go. What he is, I am. That confidence, that God binds your life with the life of Jesus. God raised Jesus and God will raise you. God prepared a place of Jesus and God prepares a place for you.


I also want to say, to me, to live is Christ: to live for Christ, for that my purpose in life is like that of Christ. To love God and to love my neighbor: the neighbor who lives in the house with me and the neighbor who flees their homeland to find refuge in my neighborhood.


I want to live full of the spirit of Christ: full of compassion in a time of need and courage in a time of trouble. I want to live in the spirit of Christ: living with justice and mercy and humility.


Paul wrote in another place that to be full of the spirit, the spirit of Jesus the Christ, is to be overflowing with love, joy, and peace, with patience, kindness and goodness, and always with faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That is what it means to say, for to me, to live, is Christ!




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