Our natural tendency is to remain alive, if we prosper at it, all the better, but our desire is to continue in this flesh as long as possible. The prospect of death is the only thing at times that keeps people going, as it were, death is the enemy, and every advantage to thwart its arrival is taken. The desire of most individuals on this planet, even in the most direst circumstances, in the most horrible conditions, is to be alive, not only does nearly every circumstance prove this, but it is built up in almost every culture. The conquest of death has been the driving force behind nearly every civilization, not just the continuance of the species, but the never-ending continuance of every individual within it.
From the stories of the fountain of youth, to Hezekiah receiving another fifteen years, (2 Kings 20:5-6) to the promise of long life to those who seek for wisdom in the Proverbs, (3:16) even unto the Artificial Intelligence systems of the day that promise that all we are will someday be downloaded into an eternal, or at least more easily repairable machine. Sadly, these statements are even true for the majority of Christians, Philippians 1:21 is only an uplifting verse. For them to memorize, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” literally means that you will need to die, leave your mortal body, to gain Christ in the fullest way, but the fear of death overrides their desire to serve fully.
Most will find themselves embarrassed to even speak His name in public, much less proclaim His glory and grace to the face of an individual. It still is beyond amazing to me that individuals who attend church on a regular basis have a fear of death, a fear of people, a fear of anything, it is the only way, save for the rapture, that any of us are going to be able to be in our Lord’s presence, and yet it is the one thing most want to avoid, in fact, it is a subject that will, when brought up, most assuredly drive others away. The lost I can understand better than the believers in this context, for “He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (Eccl. 3:11) Whether they will admit it to others or even themselves, they know where they are going when they die, and so every possible effort is expended to remain here, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” (Job 2:4)
But the children of God? That is a whole different matter altogether, their desires in this area is the same as most of their walk with Him, as long as it does not cost me too much, I will follow. Was Paul looking for an escape route as they led him away to be killed, did John the Baptist wonder as they approached his cell if he could defeat the guards and sneak out unaware, did or did not Jesus go willingly to the cross. And most run to the doctor or pharmacist as soon as the aches and pains start, most do all they can to maintain their existence here, while professing that it is in the presence of Christ they desire to be in. Insanity or hypocrisy? I will let you decide.
There have been days in the past, and those days are fast approaching again, where a choice will need to be made, many will be given an offer, refuse Christ or die. It is happening today, it will happen much more frequently as the days go by, do not think these times are reserved only for the tribulation period. If you are one of these individuals who says to yourself that you are unsure of how you would handle this situation if it is allowed to enter into your life, then you are not prepared, obviously, and unless you begin to address these thoughts in your mind today, you never will be.
The best place to start? “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:33) Pain and suffering is the path that the Lord has chosen for His children, and when allowed, Satan is more than willing to assist the believer in this path. “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) My friends, if you are not willing to suffer, there is more than likely no way that you are prepared to die for Him, you are still holding onto your life more than you should. “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:25) If you are not willing to give your life up to Him now, you will definitely not be willing to lay it down for Him then.