Better By far
“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…” Phil 1:23
If we don’t enjoy being with Christ here on earth, will we enjoy being with him in heaven? A good question to ponder, isn’t it?
My father-in-law was called home to heaven few years ago and it will be a joyful reunion when I finally get there, whenever it will be. But besides a few acquaintances, I don’t know that many people up there; therefore my longing for going there is at the minimum. The people whom I treasure the most are here with me, so when the day comes, there will be more “good-byes” to say down here than “hellos” up there, and we all know which of the two is more pleasant.
Aren’t we supposed to love Christ the most and enjoy being with him more than with anyone else on earth? If so, why do we still feel going to God’s house to worship is so difficult and spending a few moments daily with the Lord so hard to maintain? We can sit in front of a television set or computer screen for hours and not feel any sort of boredom, yet we start to check our watches after sitting in a church pew for a few minutes. The truth is hard to deny: we don’t really enjoy being in God’s presence.
Is there genuine friendship between Christ and us? We do enjoy spending time with our friends, don’t we?
Paul wasn’t among the twelve when Christ was in the flesh, so he didn’t have the opportunity to build an intimate relationship with the Lord, and the intimacy he had built up with Christ was through fellowshipping with him in spirit. Paul must have spent an ample amount of time speaking with the Lord through prayer and meditation, and by doing it consistently, his friendship with Jesus deepened.
Is there true love between Christ and us? We do enjoy being with our loved ones, don’t we?
If we claim to love Christ, yet are reluctant to walk with him and to spend time with him, we may be fooling ourselves. Indeed, we turn to him for help in time of need, but keep a distance from him in time of ease. Do we treat our loved ones this way? Surely not. The deeper we love people, the less self-interested our relationship with them will be, for we love them not out of need, but out of want. Unconditional love is the least self-interested kind of love.
Some of us go through days and days without thinking about Christ, and don’t miss him at all even after we haven’t met him for a long while. He is more a stranger than a friend to us, and we may not recognize him if we happen to run into him or if he tries to speak to us. It will be a lie if we make the claim as Paul once did: “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…”
Isn’t this the time to redeem the situation and reestablish our friendship and love for Christ by spending time with him daily and by meditating on him day and night? We will have no yearning for the afterlife unless we learn to enjoy life with Christ here on earth, for heaven is the fullness and expression of Christ himself.