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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Thursday-Time to be Torn

 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 1:23,24

 

There are times in life when we are torn. And to be torn, there has to only be two things. Two options. After all, you use your hands to tear something, so there can only be two choices.

 

The road of life splits right and left. Period. There are no other choices. You have to take one or the other. And it’s not like you can sit there for a long time debating which way to turn. There’s no time to search Google. There’s no time to ask a question on your social media sites. Heck, there’s no time to call a friend. It’s one or the other. Vanilla or chocolate. Period. That’s it. No other possibilities.

 

It’s like in The Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo a blue pill and a red pill. There’s only two choices. If he takes the blue pill, then life stays the same. But if he takes the red pill, then his eyes will be opened, and he’ll see the truth. When Morpheus says, “Remember… all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more[1],” he’s giving Neo the choice. He’s torn between what he knows and what’s true.

 

That’s exactly where Paul is. He’s between a rock and a hard place. He’s hemmed in on both sides. There’s not a lot of options. It was either life or death. This wasn’t some unemotional decision like those immortal words from The Godfather, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli[2].

 

Paul has two, and only two choices in front of him. There’s no multiple-choice. There’s no way to cheat either. Paul’s choice, his desire, is a deeply rooted emotion that comes from way down inside. It’s something that he feels with everything he’s got. There are only two options to choose from.

 

Choice #1 – Depart. The best choice from Paul’s perspective is to leave this world. He sees death not as an end, but as a gateway to eternity. He sees it like untying a boat so that can leave. That’s what boats are built for. Not for staying tied up but for going to other places. Paul knows that people are built for God and that we only find our ultimate peace and purpose in him.

 

Choice #2 – Remain. This is what’s best for the Philippians. They need additional instruction about who God is and how Jesus paid for their sins. They need his encouragement in the faith. They need his living example in front of them. But to do this, Paul has to stay in this present life, in his body that has been battered. In the body that has God’s thorn in the flesh that still aggravates and humbles him.

 

When we choose, we always, always, always look for what’s going to be best for us. What gives us the greatest immediate payback. The biggest bang for the buck. What’s going to help us right now. We look at the options and figure out what’s going to make us successful. Rich. Powerful.

 

If our choice happens to help others, well that’s a happy accident. But we rarely think about what it does to or for others. If it hurts them, who cares so long as it’s good for us. The only person we think or care about is us.

 

But not Paul. He’s totally on the other side of the choosing universe. He only cares about what’s going to help the Philippians. He loves what’s best for them. He’s willing to stay on this stinking planet, living in a body that’s been whipped, beaten with rods, stoned, and shipwrecked[3]. And to top it all off, he had a thorn in the flesh that brought great pain and suffering to him[4].

 

The real question isn’t which one will he choose, but why is there a choice at all? Why not just do what’s best for him? Do the thing that brings the greatest pleasure and popularity. Do and say whatever has the biggest Return On Investment: ROI. After all, that’s the American way.

 

Why did Jesus come? To die on a cross. Not as a sacrifice for his family, friends, and followers. But for the ungodly[5]. For his enemies[6]. God doesn’t treat us as he should[7]. We bring nothing to the table when it comes to our relationship with God. He brings himself and everything to us. He doesn’t need us, but we desperately need him.

 

When are we going to get this through our thick heads. God was living in perfect relationship and harmony for eternity past. There was complete transparency, love, and communication between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He didn’t need anyone or anything.

 

We desperately need him. And in our desperation, Christ came to bring us back to God. This is the greatest good news of all time. It should make us jump up and down with excitement and thanksgiving. It’s time to choose to thankfully love and worship the one who made us. Loves us. Saves us. So, what’s stopping us?

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • What’s the last thing you tore up? How did it go?

  • What’s our default when it comes to choosing? Choose for others or ourselves?

  • How desperate are we to receive God’s grace and forgiveness? Explain.


[3] 2 Corinthians 11:24,25

[4] 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

[5] Romans 5:6

[6] Romans 5:7

[7] Psalm 103:10

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