For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil 1:21)
For Paul, to live is Christ, the Anointed One, Redeemer, Messiah, Prophet, Priest, and King, fully God and fully man. Paul understands that to live is Christ: exalted and abased, master and servant, king and victim, rich and poor; subject to death and victor over death. To advance the gospel message and bring glory to God, he must suffer. The beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, and imprisonments strengthened his faith in and witness for Christ because he has presented his body as a living sacrifice (Ro. 12:1). He has faithfully run the race set before him. He knows God will be honored whether he lives or dies. If he lives, he will continue the good fight of faith; if he dies, his gain would be great. In death he would no longer be working the hostile, cold, barren ground, plowing the fields that are ripe for harvest. In death he will walk the streets of gold, worship with the angels, and His faith will become sight. He will live forever with his beloved Bridegroom. Paul lived and died with Christ.
Like Paul, our life’s purpose is to live with Christ, to proclaim the Gospel message in all we say and do. We are a light of hope in the darkness of sin and death all around us. What we lose in life we gain in heaven. When we live a life of sacrifice as Paul did, our death will glorify Christ and we will be in perfect union with Him. We will be face-to-face with Jesus. In life there is nothing better than the all-pervading presence of Jesus. Without Him, we are like a raft on the stormy seas, tossed about in the churning winds and torrential rains without compass, without faith, without hope—ever seeking the peaceful shores beyond. When our life is simply Christ, death will simply be gain.
Paul’s life mirrored his message. Does yours? Are your days a shattered heap of broken glass? Are you determined to get your own way? Or are your days as links in a chain uniting you to Christ? When you rest in the Lord, the tumult and anguish of life are brought into unity with Christ and you will find rest for your troubled soul. Death will be a glorious homecoming. Let this be the prayer of your heart today, “For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, no pang shall be mine, for in death as in life, Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.”