Saturday, March 21, 2009

Contemplating Depression

What follows below is from IVP New Testament Commentary on Phillipians 1, and basically says he would rather die and be with Christ, but for the sake of those around him, he chooses to live so he can continue praising God, glorifying Him with His life. MY opinion: People who say suicide is selfish only sees one side of the equation... I believe (and I know I will get a lot of disagreement on this, which is okay BECAUSE THIS IS MY OPINION.) My opinion is what is even MORE selfish is people who expect you to suck it up, 'be happy' and go on living without understanding the hell you go through, sometimes minute by minute. Or people who promise to stick by you but walk away when they don't know what to do... leaving you in your own pit of despair, that to me is selfish. But since we are descendants of the fallen man, we are all selfish. So I CHOOSE to believe depression is a blessing in that it forces me to talk to Jesus about all the things no one else would understand, not even I can understand. Life is about denying oneself for the sake of serving others. If my transparency causes all my friends to walk away in discomfort while even just ONE person comes to Christ after hearing my testimony, then it will all be worth it. One day, Jesus will smile at me, hug me, and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home!"

Why I am here: Phillipians 1
19for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If 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! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

The striking words "to live, Christ [Christos]; to die, gain [kerdos]" epitomize Paul's life since Damascus. Once Paul was apprehended by Christ Jesus (3:12), Christ became the singular pursuit of his life. Christ--crucified, exalted Lord, present by the Spirit, coming King; Christ, the name that sums up for Paul the whole range of his new relationship to God: personal devotion, commitment, service, the gospel, ministry, communion, inspiration, everything. Much of what this means will be spelled out in his story in 3:4-14. Such singular focus does not make Paul otherworldly; rather, it gives heart and meaning to everything he is and does as a citizen of two worlds, his heavenly citizenship determining his earthly.
... Death, after all, because it is "ours" in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 3:22), has lost its sting (1 Cor 15:55)… Paul now begins a personal reflection on these two alternatives, whose point seems easy enough. If he had a real choice between the two, he would choose execution, for clear christological and eschatological reasons.

Verse 22 is a clear follow-up to verse 21. Picking up on the first clause (to live is Christ), Paul assesses what its outcome will mean for him in the body (literally "flesh"), namely, fruitful labor. But rather than follow that up with a similar sentence ("if it means death"), he jumps ahead to reflect on what he might do if he in fact had a real choice in the matter. "I simply cannot say," he says; indeed, I am torn between the two, since it means Christ in either case.

The tension arises between Paul's "on earth" passion of serving Christ on behalf of others ( fruitful labor) and his personal desire finally to be with Christ "in heaven." After all, all of present life is given to "knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (3:8) while at the same time pressing "toward the goal of winning the prize" of knowing him finally and completely (3:14).
Thus for Paul personally, to depart and be with Christ . . . is better by far.

… In any case, Paul understood death as a means into the Lord's immediate presence, which for him and countless thousands after him has been a comforting and encouraging prospect. Very likely he also expected such gain to include consciousness, and for most believers that too has been a matter of encouragement--although such a conclusion goes beyond the certain evidence we possess from Paul himself. Life Is to Their Advantage (1:24-26) Although verse 24 is grammatically part of verse 23 (remain is in contrast to depart), with these words Paul first of all returns to what he began in verse 22 (to live in the body means fruitful labor). Paul clearly expects to remain in the body, precisely because that is more necessary for you. How so is what he takes up in the concluding sentence (vv. 25-26). In the end he yields to "divine necessity," which is also a way of saying that God's choice.

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