For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Phil 1:20-21.

Paul the Apostle from the time of his Christ encounter on the Damascus road, was forever changed. In what ways? Well this simple question probably has a thousand answers, but in large measure they boil done to I think two statements and that is that a) He became Christ obsessed and b) he became radically committed to others.

Pauls Christ obsession can be seen in these verses above. He gives us a short pithy statement that in large measure sums him up- “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” After Paul met Christ the shape of his existence was largely defined by a relentless passion for the glory of the name of Jesus. He travelled, shared and measured his life by its Christ exalting capacity. So much so- that he could say- “to live is Christ.” And even the second part of this statement- “to die is gain,” is also not so much a death wish to end his suffering (an ever present reality), but a culmination of his ambition to truly know Christ and enjoy him forever. So what? Perhaps, I need to become more Christ obsessed. Perhaps I need to get to know this Jesus Paul knew and then maybe like him- by the Spirit I will become convinced that “to live is Christ.”

Grace and peace from Marcus

 

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Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! (Romans 15:13)

In his great letter to the Romans Paul is celebrating God’s grace expressed to both the Jews and now through Christ, the nations and he is overwhelmed with joy. As he is- he is moved to pray that the full effect of all that God had done in Christ would permeate the experience of the Roman Christians and I think of course, all of those who are in Christ Jesus including us.

So what does he pray for? Well actually Paul begins by talking about the one to whom he prays, who is he and what is he like? Well- he is the God of hope. That is, who he is and that is what he gives. He is the God of hope. Initially that hope was directed at and through the people of Israel- but now in Christ this hope permeated all creation in Christ. So Paul prays for them and us- that we might be filled with uncontainable joy and peace as we trust in God. Trusting God is of course the doorway to this peace. Paul prays that through trusting in God, God’s children might know both joy and peace in increasing measure. In doing so I think he is “fairly confident.” Why because he knows that that reality is part of the will and purpose of the Holy Spirit who is the personal presence of God to radiate hope.

Grace and peace from Marcus