Some of you may know that classic of the 80's, 'For me to live is Christ, to die is gain', and the words of that come straight out of this passage. To be honest, I don't think I'm anywhere near that stage! Maybe, my material possessions are too great or my ambition less directed to serving Christ, but I recognise this as something to aim for. The only shame Paul feared was to renounce the love of Christ under fear of torture or death. The Christian in twenty first century Western Europe has more subtle challenges to his faith. Are we struggling not to drown in the cesspit of want, envy and selfish ambition? Even more subtly, do we have the god of family ruling over the throne of our hearts? Has God gently been disposed for the tangible idol of many in the UK? A challenge for you and for me then, as 2021 approaches: How do we look forwards to death in a counter-cultural attitude? The words Paul used here describe three images: 1. a breaking up of camp. The time has come to move on, the tent pegs have been pulled up, the canvas has been folded, all the utensils have been collected, the next adventure awaits. 2. Paul's words also can be used to describe loosening the mooring ropes as the boat sets sail. Death is a departure onto a new voyage leading to God and eternity. This death has to be gone through in order to enjoy the deathless life to come. 3. It is also the words for solving problems. Death brings life's solutions. Incurable cancer? A life full of debt? Struggles with addiction? Death solves all of those and there will be answers, one day we will come to understand just why we have experienced what we have experienced. I believe that a part of eternity will be reflecting back on how and why life here has been as it has. Some of you have experienced pain and torment and I believe that one day 'we will know as we are known' as Scripture tells us in that beautiful hymn, 1 Corinthians 13. If you have the time, read that short chapter now in the light of the eternal promise made to you when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour.
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