“To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The words, while penned by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21, could so easily be assumed to be the words of Thomas after his encounter with the risen Lord as we saw in yesterday’s sermon. What better descriptive language can one imagine to describe the life of a person who has had a personal encounter with the risen Jesus? Of course, like Thomas, Paul had such an experience with Jesus—and one which arguably produced a more drastic change in his life. While Thomas had been a disciple of Jesus even before the resurrection, Paul had been persecuting those who were Christians prior to his own moment of truth.

While we do not know a great deal from Scripture about Thomas’ future, we do know about Paul’s. Paul’s life after coming to realize the reality of Jesus’ identity, death, and resurrection is a life of God’s mission. We so easily look to the life of Paul and say, “Yes, look at how clearly God’s mission was played out through that man.”

But what about the rest of us? Are we any less a part of what God is doing? While God’s mission may not involve all of us equally in such a visibly impacting way as it did for Paul’s life, we should be able to say along with him: “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” (Philippians 1:22, ESV)

As it concerns the lives we live and the churches we are each a part of, then, what is our fruitful labor for which we are existing? If we claim to know Jesus to be the Christ, then we can and should say, “To live is Christ.” Saying those words, though, as wonderfully spiritual as they may sound, is meaningless if we are not purposefully pursuing the very mission that God has spelled out for us on the pages of his word.