The Apostle lived only to serve his Lord, He would have agreed with Hudson Taylor who said: “Christ is either all in all or nothing at all.”
For Paul, Christ had been the beginning of life, for on that day on the Damascus Road he had been born again. Christ was also the continuance of life. There had never been a day when Paul had not lived in His presence. The life begun from Christ was sustained in Christ.
Christ was also the end of life, for it was towards the eternal presence of Jesus that life ever led. For me to live is to live with Christ. As life means Christ to me, so death means gain.
I believe that Christ is the whole of Christianity, that the only thing that matters in religion is the place we give to Him. When that is right, everything is right. As James Denney wrote in a letter to a fellow-minister: “What makes me even the kind of Christian I am is that I dare not turn my back on Christ or put Him out of my life.”
Christ is the central fact of my spiritual life. I worship Him. I trust my soul to Him for time and eternity. I can say to Him, “Thou, O Christ, art all I want.”
It is my greatest joy in life to preach Christ. John Wesley in his Journal wrote again and again, “I offered them Christ.” That is the business of the preacher: to point people to Christ, to introduce them to the Savior. If the preacher is forgotten and Christ is magnified, so much the better. Spurgeon used to say that wherever his text came from in Scripture he made it his practice to move from it as fast as he could to Jesus Christ.
I. Jesus Christ gives me a world I can live in.
He assures me that the world will prove itself friendly to those who put their trust in the love of God and seek to live like God. Paul believed that; he had learned from experience that things which seemed to be handicaps can be transformed into helps for the good life. “All things work together for good to those who love God and cooperate with His purpose.”
So the world He lives in is the Father’s house where every son and daughter has a place in the Father’s heart. In this world which Christ gives me I can live securely and be sure of God, even when I am at my weakest. He inspires me to stand up to troubles and trials. He rekindles my faith in God and shows me how sorrow and suffering can be turned from loss to gain.
Faith makes sense of life. It gives me a satisfying interpretation of the universe. It does not answer all my questions or solve all my problems but it does give me the clue I need.
I believe in Christ because his interpretation of the world makes far better sense than any of the alternatives. Christ’s world is a world where the bruised reed is not broken, where the sparrow is not forgotten and the very hairs of our head are numbered. This is a world I can live in.
This is my Father’s world
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
II. Christ gives me a work I can live for.
The reason why so many people are restless, rootless, at odds with themselves, is that they have never, like Paul, hitched their wagon to a star, never found a cause to which to give themselves.
There is a sentence in a letter that Turgeniev, the Russian novelist, wrote to Flaubert during the siege of Paris which reveals much about life. “What a hard time we have, we who are born onlookers at life.”
You can’t reduce life to a play or a spectacle which you only watch without in the long run being utterly bored by it. The on-looker does not see most of the game. Life avenges itself on the person who wants to do nothing about it. A person’s work is his life preserver.
We find ourselves in a world in which there is always something to fight. I find within me and around me selfishness, impurity, cruelty, covetousness, pride. In this world in which sin is entrenched I hear Christ’s challenge to follow Him in His war against sin, to help Him in His task of bringing mankind to do the will of God on this earth.
The thrill of a great trust came to Paul when he said on the road to Damascus, “Lord, What wilt Thou have me to do?” When he was called to be an Apostle that day he was called to a trust which was his constant companion.
We Christians are the people to whom the very highest trust has been committed. In the sight of God we are responsible for this country in which we live, just as when Paul visited Athens and saw the whole city given up to idols. He felt the responsibility lying at his door. Behind this sense of responsibility is a dream, the dream of a redeemed world.
Outside Trinity Church in Boston there is a remarkable statue of Phillips Brooks by Saint-Gaudens. The preacher stands at a pulpit with an open Bible. Behind him stands Jesus with His hand on the preacher’s shoulder. In a letter to a friend Brooks wrote: “All experience becomes more and more the pressure of Christ’s life upon ours. He knows me and I know Him. This is no figure of speech: it is the realest thing in the world.”
No wonder one of Brooks’ biographers says of him: “He conversed with Christ as his most intimate friend.” The richer the life I bring to Christ the richer will be the enjoyment I find in dedicating it all to Him.
3. Christ gives me a self I can live with.
A divided heart is an unhappy heart. Luther said: “I am more afraid of my own heart than of the Pope and all his Cardinals.”
The soul is never unified except in the service of Christ. When Paul describes the divided heart he rises at one bound into a triumphant cry: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? God will. Thanks be to Him through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In another place he writes: “In Him who strengthens me I am able for anything.”
What is it that Christ does? He is beside me with an example in His own person of inward unity. But that example, while it encourages me, leaves my dual nature unhealed. Thank God He who is our example is also our new life. He so breathes His Spirit into the soul that loves Him that he is able to say with Paul: “I live, yet not I, Christ lives in me.”
Stanley Jones in the last book he wrote before his death, The Divine Yes, tells of a woman in Sweden who said: “I dislike myself. I even hate myself. But I have to live with myself.” Then one morning after making a surrender to Christ she said: “Do you know, I love everybody this morning, including myself.”
Jones comments: “Some people think that if you surrender to Christ, you surrender to being cancelled out. On the contrary all you think and act and are become heightened by the contact with Christ. When you surrender to Christ a plus is added to all you do and think and are.” People come to Christ defeated, depressed, at odds with themselves. They go out from His presence with their life pulled together, their personality integrated. “If any one is in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away: Behold they are become new.” The divided self is gone. Christ lives in us and gives us a self we can live with.
4. Christ gives me a Master I can die for.
Jesus chose twelve to be with Him. They learned that life was not worth living without Him. When many went back and walked no more with Him, Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Peter spoke for them all when he said: “Lord to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
“It is faith in something which makes life worth Living,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes, “and to live rightly you need to find someone better than yourself.”
No one has found his sphere or his happiness until he has found his Master. Christ is the Master of us all.
Every time you write a letter you begin with a reference to Him. You date it from Him. You make the distinction between B.C. and A.D.
There entered into life a new spirit when Christ appeared in the world. You disclose what that spirit is when you bring your letter to a close. “I am yours truly.” His Spirit teaches us that we belong together. The greatest signs himself to the lowliest, “Yours truly.” They belong to one another because they belong to Him. Wherever Christ is truly known, every knee shall bow to Him, every tongue confesses Him to be Lord and every hand is ready to serve Him.
When I have given myself to Christ as Master I know that He will take care of me and make me immortal till my work is done. If it be Christ to live, it will be gain to die. When death comes He will have stripped it of its terror and restored it to be the beautiful thing God meant it to be, the crown of life.
When Bernard of Quintavelle, the first follower of St. Francis, lay dying, he said: “If I could have had a thousand lives I would have chosen no other Master than Christ. Hear my prayer that you love one another.” And with a smile on his face he died.
William Booth, when he was near the end of his long life, was asked the secret of his success. He replied: “I do not know unless it be that Christ has had all there is of me.”
To what better purpose can I put my life than to surrender it to the Christ who gives me a world I can live in. a work I can live for, a self I can live with and a Master I can die for? The more I confront myself with the fact of Christ the more intensely do I know that the living God is confronting me and demanding the entire surrender of my soul. I cannot get away from Jesus. He has made the whole world different for me. He had done for me what only God can do and what He has done for me He can do for you.
Life is what you are alive to. Are you alive to this world of Christ’s in which the love of the Father reigns? Are you alive to this work of Christ’s in which the best of men and women have found joy and peace? Are you alive to the grace and beauty of Christ so that it would be a little thing to die for Him? If so you have found your motive, your life work and your heaven. Will you not say to Him now:
My life I give henceforth to live
O Christ, to Thee alone.

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