“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:21–24, NIV 1984).
My Musings – As the state of the world grows worse, I sense that many Christians (me included) are becoming more and more preoccupied with the end times (specifically the rapture) and a “desire to depart and be with Christ.” While the term rapture does not appear in the Scriptures, the concept certainly does. How else can one explain two different descriptions of Christ’s return (“like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2, NIV 1984)” versus “as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west (Matthew 24:27, NIV 1984.)“ What is not as certain is the timing — before, during or at the end of the Tribulation.
As things go from bad to worse (with the last seven years so bad that “if those days were not cut short no, one would survive“), it is only natural to “desire to depart” and the beginning and avoid all that. Perhaps as much wishful thinking than a clear certainty. Afterall, it is “for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (italics from Matthew 24:22, NIV 1984).
For those who are not saved, there is a clear certainty. Whether the rapture is before, during or at the end of the Tribulation, they will go through those worst of days. Perhaps we should be more like Paul and feel like “it is more necessary for [them] that [we] remain in the body” and continue as beacons of light during those dark days. For the “harvest” of souls during that time will be “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:9, NIV 1984).” Considering such a great harvest, shouldn’t at least a part of us be “torn between the two — desire to depart versus remain in the body?“
My Advice – Yesterday I wrote about lessening our regrets. It remains a distinct possibilty that we may depart (“be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17, NIV 1984).“ before things get to be so bad. Until that time, we should be doing as much as we can to make sure that any loved ones (family, friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers) that might be “left behind” know the Gospel beforehand. That’s one of the regrets that I want to lessen — having not done enough up to this time — so that “if I am to go on living in the body, [it] will mean fruitful labor for me (Philippians 1:21–22, NIV 1984).
When the days of trouble come, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it [may be] more necessary for [them] that I remain in the body.”