Did you hear about the Texas oil millionaire who left instructions in his will that he was to be buried dressed in his gold lamé suit, seated at the wheel of his cadillac? When he died they followed his instructions, and a digger excavated a great pit and as the minister said the words a crane slowly lowered the car, the dead millionaire, his rigid hands gripping the steering wheel, into the crater. One of the rich friends present looked in wonder and said “Man, that’s living”.
I guess even a two year old could have contradicted that. But millions of people alive are NOT LIVING. Well, not as they think life should be. Some live in the past in the good old days – which at the time were nothing like the golden days dreamed of in nostalgia: ‘when so and so was alive’: ‘when I was young and beautiful’. Some live only in the future. ‘I’ll start to live when I’ve won the lottery/when I’ve graduated/when I’m married/when I’m divorced/when I retire: …when …. Like that poster on a wall in Northern Ireland during the troubles: “Is there a life before death?”
The trick about living is LIVING NOW. Real living is what the gospel is all about, not about religion, but living to the full, here and now. It is not about living in the past: it is not about living in the future – but now. John’s Gospel calls this kind of living: “Life in His Name”. Life in the name of Jesus is what belief in Jesus opens into. Even believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, is not enough. It must go on into “Life in His Name”; His kind of living. “In His Name” means in his presence, in his person, in his spirit: wedded to him like a bride who takes her husband’s name and the two become two halves of a new item. John calls this dimension “eternal life”, which you do not receive when you die, but when you put your trust in Jesus and begin to live in Him. Jesus said in John 16:23-24.
In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
Paul, in chains, in a vile prison cell on death row, says: “For me living is
Christ”,and the most used words of his letter to the Philippians are “rejoicing” and “joy”.
For me Lord, living is Christ, and even to die is gain. I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but …
Read it all yourself in Philippians Chapter 1.