If I Should Die, Think Only This
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21 (ESV)
Rupert Brooke’s stirring poem, The Soldier, will be no doubt much recited and quoted in the forthcoming Remembrance Day celebrations. Too many men and women on all sides lost their lives in some corner of a foreign field during both world wars. For Brooke, who died in 1915, that corner would be “forever England.”
Two thousand years ago another soldier contemplated his death away from his homeland in a hostile Roman arena. His name was Paul, and he described his life in terms of being a soldier for the Lord. Paul confided in his friends, the Philippians, when he wrote to them from prison. His desire, as he considered his possible execution, was that “with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).
So great was Paul’s faith in the faithfulness of Jesus that he saw death not as personal loss but as a glorious gain. “To depart and be with Christ” is “far better” than we think (Philippians 1:23). Later, closer to the actual time of his death, Paul had this to say: “the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…the Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:6-7, 18).
The Christian hope was often the focus of Paul’s thinking. He comforted the Thessalonians by pointing to the resurrection from the dead, and by saying that thereafter “we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). That hope is not exclusively for Christians but it is also, inclusively, the hope for the whole world.
“If we should die, think only this,” to merge Paul’s and Brooke’s words, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Father, we remember all those who have died in wars through the ages, and we thank you for the hope that is your son, Jesus. In his name we pray.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.