To Live is Christ

“To live is Christ, but to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

This verse by Saint Paul has always resonated with me. At first, I didn’t really understand it, but as I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ, I rediscover its meaning over and over again. The idea is that until we are fully united with God in heaven, we have to sacrifice like Christ did and live here on earth. We must live in order to shape all of creation around God’s plan, to help the outcast, to bring light to darkness, to use our God-given gifts and talents to edify a broken world.

Saint Paul continues in saying that he is “hard-pressed between the two,” that is between living like Christ and dying in order to gain Christ. He understood what a sacrifice it was to delay time in heaven for doing God’s will on earth. I know the feeling. I don’t want to do this life oftentimes. I’m supposed to be using my gifts for the world, but I am so much more content (perhaps complacent) by simply experiencing, listening to those with greater gifts than mine, and absorbing divine rays through the greatest minds to walk the planet. Why would I bother contributing anything to society when I can spend my time taking in the beauty of true genius? Why bother using my intelligence when there are more intelligent minds contributing far greater things than I could ever hope to accomplish?

I am not one of the greatest minds. I am not one of the greatest saints. But I can understand them. I know what Saint Paul meant, to have that aching desire for divine union, to feel so incredibly bogged down in the secular rubbish, to be affected by it while at the same time trying to be impervious to it. But it is so exhausting to feel so alone in this fight against this present darkness. I’m down here scraping and scratching to pull myself out of the slime that’s sticking onto me like Venom. I just want it to end, to be with the angels, where I belong. I don’t want this material realm; this is not my home.

I am not a saint, but I know how they felt. This constant internal battle, trying to find the perfect balance between arrogance and self-hatred, to achieve the virtue of humility. And the ever-present external battle of being an alien on earth, being in the world without being a part of it.

I now know what I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying to achieve heaven on earth by simply surrounding myself with others’ beauty, soaking up their artistry and talent and logical reasoning in a world driven itself insane. I don’t care much for being talented as long as true talent exists and I can experience its magnetism and mystery and pure alchemy. It’s a taste of the divine. We are meant to enjoy each other’s gifts, but I’ve been relishing in others’ talents to the exclusion of my own.

I am not a saint, but I want to be. But want is not enough. I must live as Christ would want me to live. I must be His very hands and feet. Until death will render a most glorious gain.

To God be the Glory!


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