To Live Is Christ

Do you fear death? Does the thought of breathing your last breath send shivers down your spine? For most people just talking about death, and the thought of leaving loved ones behind, can bring about sadness and even despair. A few years ago, for the first time ever as parents, April and I went on a trip without our three kids. It was just a four-day getaway, but there was a worry that we’d never see our kids again. We even threw together a will at the last moment just so our final wishes would be carried out and our kids would be taken care of. Generally speaking, I hate to fly, but I do remember my standardized pre-flight prayers “Lord, please protect this plane’s left phalange” had a little more umph this time around.

But being a young man, I do not think of death much. In my mind, I have another 40 - 50 years left on this earth. There is plenty of time to watch my kids grow to become men and women. There is time to travel or learn another language. One day I’ll watch my kids have their own kids and then maybe, God willing, I’ll see my grandkids have kids. So yeah, in my mind, there is always more time.

While I may not fear death itself, the one thing I do fear is looking back at my life and feeling I ran the race incorrectly, or that I missed out on something larger, more meaningful along the way. Like I had cheated and picked a shorter route, or instead of training to run the race, I decided to walk because it took less effort. I fear by doing just enough to get by, I will miss out on truly living the abundant life.

The thing I really fear, though, isn’t death at all but regret. But not regret over failing to learn a different language or that I didn’t take my kids to Disney enough. What I fear is failing to live up to Jesus’ last words to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” It’s such a simple ask from Jesus. “Go. Do as I did. Make disciples. Teach. Learn. Spread my message of grace and hope to every person you meet. Go. Don’t wait. Go.”

But what if I never “Go?" What if I live my entire life and never make a single disciple? That I could live 80+ years on this earth and never once have a Timothy or a Titus that I poured my life into, or a Jonathan, a brother who would weep and pray with me even if it meant risking his own life. This, in my mind, would be a tragedy. It would be taking the shortcut through life or walking the race because running just seemed like too much work. It would be burying my master’s coin, instead of using it to produce a bountiful harvest.

I believe Paul sums up this idea of living for something greater in Philippians 1:21-26

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”

To Paul, even though his greatest desire was to depart from this world and be with Christ, he understood he was put here on earth for something larger. If he couldn’t be with Christ, he would then live for Christ by pouring his heart and soul into those around him. It wasn’t a sacrifice or something Paul felt he had to do to gain Christ’s acceptance or love. Rather, Paul knew that by investing in other people’s lives, it meant that Jesus would be glorified all the more.

So, I have to ask. Do you (we) have any disciples? Are you being discipled? If not, why not? Are you actively living in community with other believers? What is your definition of community? When was the last time you simply shared Jesus with someone? Do you even know your neighbor’s name?

These are simple questions but their answers have enormous implications. Our answers will reveal not just how we are living but whom we are living for. They will tell us where our time is being spent and where our desires lie. But most importantly, they will proclaim whether or not we are answering Jesus’ call to “Go” with silence or with action.

My prayer for Red Hills Church is that we would be a people of action not silence. That we would exist not just as a body of believers, but as an active community of Christ centered people who are taking His gospel to other nations, to our city, our community, our neighborhoods, schools, work, playgrounds, and coffee shops.

My prayer for Red Hills Church is that we would go.

-Lyell Walker

Nothing Without You

United Pursuit