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Philippians 1:21–24 ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ (v21)

Imitating your heroes is a standard game for most children. Maybe you can recall pretending to be a TV star or sporting hero in your playtime? But we soon grew out of this and learn to be ourselves – indeed, if people today think they are someone else we assume that there must be a mental health issue there somewhere.

So, what do we make of Paul’s words: ‘For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’? Identifying himself so sharply with Jesus might seem a bold and arrogant thing to say. As you imagine your day ahead or the day you’ve just spent, would it seem strange to think that your life and Christ could be so clearly and closely tied?

In fact, the teaching of Jesus in the gospels encourages such talk. Many local churches have moved so far away from the apprentice to Jesus model that any talk of imitation of Christ sounds arrogant. But when the followers of Jesus are called Christian in Antioch it was meant as a slur.

Christian means literally ‘little Christs’. But the moniker stuck because that’s what these followers of the Way were precisely attempting to do. The second half of the phrase reflects Paul’s awareness that death, although the final enemy, is but a gateway to a glorious future gain for him, and indeed one day for us. One day we will be fully like Christ, and so let’s get as close as we can in this life.


A Prayer To Make:
‘God, You call me to be like Your son. Where do You want to work next? Give me Your power and grace to change. Amen.’

An Action To Take:
Think of a part of your life where you need to do things the Jesus way. What precisely needs to change for this to be a reality?

Scripture To Consider:
1 Chr. 16:23–36; Dan. 3:13–30; Acts 11:19–26; 1 John 3:1–3

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.