Exalting Christ in Your Body
Phil. 1:20 It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death.
Phil. 1:21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.
Paul is writing from his own personal experience and now he is reflecting on his life and work. He knows that he is facing the prospect of death, but in it all he wants Christ to be exalted. The goal is to be like Christ, and that means living like Christ in the flesh. So, to live is to be like Christ, to die is to be with Christ. For Paul, either is a win!
Paul never lets us to get away with thinking that our Christian life is something that is in the distance. Instead, Paul wants us to live and exalt Christ in our bodies. This is really quite contrary to what the world is saying to us these days and it makes it difficult to live the Christian life within the kingdom, because it is so counter-cultural. The world is telling us that absolutely everything is okay and is not only okay, it is acceptable and you have the freedom to do anything you want. If someone is intolerant of that freedom, then they are not loving. So, how do we exalt Christ in our bodies in the midst of this kind of a world? In Romans Paul told us to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. We literally have to understand that our Christian life has to impact how we live our lives in the flesh! Too often we have separated the body from the soul and somehow believed that the spirit or soul is the most important. We are wholistic beings and you cannot separate the two. The truth is, if you could, it would probably be easier to live for Christ in the spirit, than it is in the body. But Paul doesn't let you get away with that because you can't chop us up into different sections, we are whole beings and we are meant to be reflections of Jesus Christ in the flesh! Therefore we must exalt Christ in our bodies.
The best way to begin to exalt Christ in our bodies is by imitating him. If I want to be like someone I don't just sit around and wait to look, talk, and act like them -- I do everything I can to become like them. I dress like them, I try to talk like them, and I try to act like them. We know this works in the world because of marketing. Look at all the stuff that is sold to make you be able to look like and relate to some of the Hollywood stars! It's crazy -- but then why don't we want to do the same thing when it comes to Christ?
There will be times that we fail but just like riding a bike, you have to get up and wipe the dust off your hands and try again. Eventually you will get better and better and finally there will be a time when you will be so much like Christ that people won't know if you're imitating or if they're actually seeing Christ in you. That fine line was being erased in the life of Paul. To live was to imitate Christ -- but to die was to be with him intimately forever. It didn't matter for in all that he did Christ was the goal. Christ must be the goal in our lives and we must begin by exalting him in our bodies on a daily basis. What does it mean for us to imitate Christ today?
Lord, may I be a reflection of you every day. Please help me to imitate you in all I do. Amen.