TO LIVE IS CHRIST, TO DIE IS GAIN
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
As we start today, I just wanted to take a moment and step into the meaning for today. I love God and I love the ones that have provided the freedom for me and my family. Today, we are honoring the men and women who fought and gave their lives in order that we could have freedom. I know that for many of us that is a hard concept for us to undertake. We are so ME focused, that it is hard for us to even think about giving the ultimate sacrifice for someone that we may not even know. Unfortunately, we have created a culture that its more worried about what more can we get, that what can we really give in order that others may grow. Sacrifice is a word that many have unfortunately contorted to mean what can I receive from what I put in. Instead of really allowing the idea to be what all can I give in order that others may receive a better life.
Here is where there is a huge shift in the ideals of the people of today. Growing up as a military kid, I grew up with the understanding of love of God, love of family, love of Country. I grew up with a foundational understanding that the USA was the greatest country in the world filled with the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believed that ALL MEN (people) are created equal and that I would gladly stand up next to her and defend her still today, cause there ain't no doubt I love this place, God Bless the USA (Lee Greenwood).
I literally grew up during a time when we understood the lives that had been given for the freedoms that we had received to go to school, church, have jobs, play sports and just exist. We were like no other country in the world. But I think that we have lost our heart to still believe these fundamental truths. The older I get, the harder I pray for the future and finding a way to return to a life where your word was your bond and you never questioned a person's movies. We have lost the meaning of sacrifice.
Paul hits us right between the eyes with today's scripture. As we read his words, Paul is in jail and is rejoicing for every day that he has to express the Gospel to the world. His understanding of sacrifice has changed and I hope and pray that ours will too. See, reading these words, we recognize that every day of our life should be a challenge to live it for Christ. That if our eyes are opened, we have been given another chance to die to self in order that we can live as Christ. We are wiling to sacrifice our schedules, mindsets, methods, time frames and take on the opportunity to follow the call of Christ. We are willing to say that I am willing to lay down my life and do all that I can in hopes of someone else receiving the grace. love and mercy of Christ. My life is just a testimony, a vessel, a method to continue to advance the Gospel of Christ. We want to follow the examples of the past and push on towards the future. And when our lives are over, we look back with no regrets. We look back realizing that we tried to do everything that we could to help others find freedom. So whether I have another chance to advance the Gospel for Christ today or I am called home to live with Christ, there is a gain. For it has never been about me, but about the opportunity for God to use me to reach others.
See that is the same attitude of the people we are honoring today. When they went into the situation that they had no idea of the outcome, all they knew was they had been called to give their lives for the freedom we receive every day. There was not a thought. It was a decision to live out their lives to the fullest realizing that even in death, there was victory. Can we live our lives in the same way? Can we wake up each day with an attitude that regardless of what is going on in the world, we live this day for Christ. Regardless of all of the uncertainty and chaos, we live this day for Christ. We seek ways to step into the moment and help others find a freedom that they have never experienced before. And on the day that we are finally called home with God, we will have nothing to regret. It does not mean that we lived a perfect life... far from it. But what it does mean is that we walked with Christ and did
all we could to advance the Gospel. In the end, we are just a mist and we will be called from time to time to lay down our lives for our faith. Those are the days that will be remembered. In the lives of our families, friends, and strangers. We will never know how powerful of an impact we will have in this world until later down the road, and that is ok. Because it is not about us... It is ALL about living for Christ as long as we can until we, through death, hear the words, "well done good and faithful servant." Not by works, but by salvation through Christ in faith till death will we enter into eternity with God. To LIVE is CHRIST... TO DIE IS GAIN. Thank you for all those that have gone before us to pave the way for true freedom.