One Life to Live
By Rev Stera Chan
July 31, 2022
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” (Philippians 1:21-23)
These verses were read during the memorial service of a seminary friend who was received by the Lord Jesus in mid-June. And these verses are especially special to my group of seminary classmates as the late Rev. Fred Tze-Wah Cheung shared in the preaching class more than twenty years ago. Since then, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” has become a great reminder to us all.
Many years ago, I had an asthma attack and it got to the point that I said to God, “Why don’t You take my life now?” Then I was reminded of Paul’s words – “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” I pondered and it was like Jesus asking me, “What will it be like if you die and see Me now?” I realized that I was not ready to see Jesus because I was ashamed. I had not been faithfully doing what He had given me, so how could my death be a gain for me and others? Then I said to God, “Lord, forget what I have just said. I want to live!” I prayed and am still praying that when the Lord Jesus receives me in the heavenly home, I will not be ashamed and people will celebrate my life joyfully.
Brothers and sisters, if we do not glorify Jesus Christ while we live, how can our dying be even better? It is only when we glorify Him in our earthly life then our death can be a gain. So, if Jesus is calling you to the heavenly home today, are you ready to see Him face to face? Can you say that “to die is gain”?
The English Ministry had a day camp for teenagers at the Truth Centre last week. We challenged the campers (and ourselves) to make a commitment to live a Kingdom-first life. Why is it important? Regardless of who we are, each one of us has only one life to live, and we do not know when Jesus returns or calls us home.
The Apostle Paul’s expectation and hope is that he would not be ashamed for not glorifying Christ in everything he does and says (Philippians 1:20). It is about living out the gospel and sharing it with others. And the only thing that could put us to shame would be the failure to win the approval of our Lord Jesus, who has already given us eternal life, promised His presence, provided all we need to live a Kingdom-first life in the midst of uncertainties and trials.
May we put hope in God alone and dispose ourselves to His sovereign will! And may we rely on the Holy Spirit to share the gospel and to glorify our Lord Jesus by life and by death!