Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Richard Baxter on Being With Christ

I do not think I am overly morbid, but whenever I begin the process of preparing for a long trip overseas, my mind always comes back to death. I tend to think and prepare myself for that time when my time on this earth will come to an end. As you may or may not know, I am leaving on Thursday for a trip to Thailand and Cambodia (I will post the details of that trip on Thursday morning). This has made me start to prepare myself, that if, my plane were to go down, I would be ready to meet Jesus (I know, it is safer than driving).

Well, if you will allow me to have these thoughts, it might pay dividends for you. You see, as I have been thinking through this, I took some time to look through Richard Baxter's work, Dying Thoughts. In this book, Baxter tries to explain what Paul means in Philippians 1:23 when he says that he desires to die and be with Christ. In many ways, he is writing to help someone prepare to die well. To look forward to that moment of passing from the temporal to the eternal.

In one of the chapters, he talks about what it means to depart this earth in order to be with Christ. There are two parts of that equation. One is departing, while the other is arriving. Often, we spend so much of our time on the departing aspect of that equation. Will my family be okay? What about the fun that I will miss here on the earth? What about my grandkids? And so on.

As I looked through this chapter, there were several parts that I really enjoyed. Let me share just a few quotes from this chapter. Baxter is making the case that in order to be with Christ, something has to happen. The time here on the earth must come to an end. We must depart from this body before we can be with Christ. He says,
"I must particularly depart from this body, from all its former delights, and also from more rational pleasures belonging to the present life and world . . . Here these eyes must see no more, this hand move no more, these feet walk no more, this tongue speak no more. As much as I have loved--and over-loved--this body, I must leave it to the grave. There must it lie and rot in darkness, as a neglected and loathsome thing" (41-42). 
"I must depart from all the former pleasure so this body. I must taste no more sweetness in meat or drink, in rest or action, or any such thing as now delights me. Houses and lands, goods and wealth, must all be left; and the place where I live must know me no more. All I labored for, or took delight in, must be no more to me than if they had never been. But consider, O my soul! Thy former pleasures are already past. Thou losest none of them by death, for they are all lost before; unless immortal grace has made them immortal by sanctifying them. All that death does to me is to prevent the repetition of them upon earth. Is not the pleasure which we lose by death common to every brute? Meat is as sweet to them, and ease as welcome, and appetite as vehement. Why then should it seem hard to us to lose that, when God pleases, which we deprive the brutes of at our pleasure? If we are believers, we only exchange these delights of life for the greater delights of a life with Christ" (44-45).
He makes a good point. If we are to die, we do not lose our treasure. We only exchange a small delight for a much greater delight! May we have that sort of mentality, in life or death.

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