I really wonder what Paul was smoking when he penned those words. I mean, did he really mean it? Often, many Christians of this generation would try to "water-down" those very words. Some would say, well, maybe Paul didn't really have too much to give up. I mean, what could you possibly own 2 thousands years ago?? A cow, a sheep and a goat? Paul didn't have to even think about giving up a three-thousand dollar a month job, a nice ride, a house, a golf-club membership or even hobbies. Good grief, we would think to ourselves... he had "Nothing!".
The truth is people never change. From generations to generations, problems creatively cover itself up to deceive our eyes. Outwardly, we perceive them as different issues, "unique only to this generation". But yet from them stem the same core principles and roots. Problems we have today is the same as the ones that existed since the beginning of creation, and it is no other than this : sin.
Thus, I feel that Paul faced the same burning issues as us in our current life. He had to choose the same choices we have today, and they are : God, or everything else.
Time and time again, I see in my mind's eyes flashes of the same images. I see myself getting shot, or killed in some horrible fashion. I recalled my days in Nebraska, when I was studying for my undergraduate, how often would I, when cars that passed by caused me to feel "alert" or "suspicious". I always had the feeling that somebody would just wind down the window and shoot me. My initial answer for these feelings was I thought I watched too much TV. And indeed in those days, I did watch plenty of TV. However, as time passed, this feeling of fear began to change in something that is indesricbable for me. It's as though I don't fear it anymore. And the anticipation that if I could give my life up for Christ would be the greatest achievement that I could ever accomplish in this life.
I guess that's what Paul was trying to say. He didn't fear death anymore, because he knew who 'held' death in His hands. And to him, the only life that's worth living, is a life that attributes of all of its efforts and heart, to the only one in the entire universe that deserves that sacrifice. Jesus. No one else.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If only the church would recite it daily in their hearts, oh how the church would be able to rise up and shine the glory of God. Revival would break out in this land, because out of the midst of godlessness rises a generation of people that fears nothing, except the name of the Lord. They would see their lives only worth counting if it's spent towards the glory and honor of Christ. And it is in this attitude, that the heart can be filled with the joy of the Lord, where His peace that passes all understanding, continue to dwell with them.
Oh God, bring revival to this land, but start with me. Give me the mind of Christ, that will allow me to have only one passion, that is to glorify the name of Jesus. In Your name. Amen.