Pursuing the Insignificant

Complete Surrender.

Phil. 1:19-26 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

            What is left when all the glitz and glamour of life is removed?  Life's greatest tragedy is not death but a wasted life spent pursuing the insignificant.  So often, we get caught up in the daily affairs of life, focusing on the pursuit of wealth and prosperity, the advancement of our careers, and the attainment of status and recognition so that we spend our whole lives pursuing what is ultimately unimportant.  When we stand in the face of death, we are confronted with the reality of significance.  Death is the equalizer, for it reduces life to the essentials.  In our confrontation with death, wealth and prosperity offer no relief.  The career we pursued tenaciously no longer matters.  Status and recognition only become a few words of tribute upon our tombstone.  In the grave, the rich and the poor possess the same thing.  Success and failure are forgotten.

            Paul faced the reality of death on numerous occasions. As he writes this letter to the church at Philippi, he is again confronted with his morality.  He sits in a prison where his life or death hangs in the balance of an indifferent judge.  In such a condition, one might expect Paul to be depressed and foreboding.  Instead, he uses the occasion to remind his readers what really is essential.  In nine simple words, Paul reduces the essence of life to a simple statement. The brevity of the phrase only serves to highlight their significance.  In this one statement, we find the essence of life; anything other than this is a life spent in the pursuit of the insignificant. 

Life's meaning, purpose, and essence are simple: “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  The words are simple enough that a child can scan them, but the depth of their meaning befuddles the greatest minds and challenges us to evaluate the core of our identity and purpose.  To live in Christ is not just a statement of purpose; it is a statement of complete identity.  For Paul, his whole identity and purpose are connected to the identity and purpose of Christ.  The only pursuit that gives meaning to life is to pursue Christ as our identity, to reflect Christ in every circumstance, every decision, and every action.  Christ is not just a part of our life; he is our life.  He is the summation of everything meaningful.  He is the purusit of every activity.  He is the focus of every thought.  This not only gives us a perspective of life, but it transforms even our perspective of death.   

            We often view death as the end of life, as the robber and destroyer of dreams and the end of the pursuit of what is good.  However, Paul saw death differently.  He refers to death as “gain.” The word refers to that which is an advantage or benefit one has received. Instead of being the robber of life, death became the great triumph of life that brings the ultimate benefit.  It is the gateway by which we attain what God intended for us. The basis for Paul's perspective is that death is the means he fully attains Christ.  Chapter 3  states his longing.  His one desire in life is to lay hold of Christ, realize his attainment of Christ fully, and enjoy eternal fellowship with Christ. Paul realized that our salvation is only partially realized in the present, but it will be fully realized when we go to be with Christ.  

            When we focus on the attainment of Christ, it reorients everything in our life.  The one pursuit that matters, the only thing genuinely worthy of our complete devotion of time, energy, and money, the one worthy of sacrifice of everything else, is Christ.  If the pursuit of him does not drive us,  if he is not the focus and purpose for everything we do in the present, if he is not the object of every desire and action, then we are wasting our life in the pursuit of the insignificance.  He is what defines and motivates us.  If Christ is not your ultimate pursuit in life, then you are pursuing what is temporal rather than eternal. 

What do you desire to be remembered for at the end of life?  This question defines your life, and how you answer this question will determine if your life has meaning or has been the pursuit of the insignificant. 

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