“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:23-24)
As we mature in the Lord, our fear of death recedes into the background and ultimately, as this verse demonstrates, becomes a desire to leave this sin-cursed world behind and pass into the presence of the Creator.
The word choices in this passage are unusual. The verse could be translated “I am held together out of two pressures, a passion to be loosed to be with Christ; which is very much more serviceable for me: but remaining here in the flesh is, out of necessity, more critical for you.”
Thus, the tension of the true saint of God. The more that is known about the joy awaiting us in the presence of our Lord, the less we see earthly values and goals as things to work toward. Yet the needs of churches, new Christians, troubled souls, and challenges surrounding our lives require a commitment to complete the “course” that God has given us to finish (2 Timothy 4:7).
The Lord Jesus insisted that we not worry about tomorrow because the evil of each day was “sufficient” (Matthew 6:34), since there is trouble enough in the world among those who reject God’s authority (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The evil that surrounds us should motivate us to long for the eternal rest promised to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).
But to struggle with conflict resolution among the churches adds to the burden. Many in the ministry know this tension, as do most who serve regularly in their own churches. Perhaps our own peace comes when we finally determine that it is “far better” to serve. HMM III