For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Philippians 1: 21-24
In daily life battles are won and lost. Sometimes we win and sometimes we will be on the losing side. Therefore it is common to say that there are winners and losers. It is very difficult to find a situation where one wins the contest regardless of the outcome. In some sports, such as soccer, there is a tie; but it is not appropriate to say that both teams won the game. In the Christian life we can say without doubt that Christ there is gain at all times, regardless of what happens to us.
Throughout history, millions of Christians have suffered persecution, abuse and even death. It happened in the early church when many were stoned, hanged, crucified or thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum. At the time of the Reformation, the Inquisition burned at the stake thousands of believers. Today continues to occur in many parts of the world. On one hand, the Islamic State terrorists behead Christians in the Middle East; on the other hand, the Hindus of India burn Christian churches in that country or communist States of China and North Korea maintain tight control to advance the Gospel.
To the world, death means loss; but for Christ, to die is a way to achieve victory. He said this in John 12:24-25: Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. So that all Christians stoned to death, hanged, crucified, eaten by lions, burned at the stake or beheaded saved their life for eternity with Jesus Christ and have produced much fruit.
I can tell you honestly that I share completely expressed the sentiments of Paul in Philippians 1:21-24. For me also living is Christ and to die is gain. I know many people; including members of my family who are shocked when I speak these things. But I’m not afraid at all to leave this world. While some take it as a joke, I always say that I will be the happiest dead. The reason I think this is the same that inspired Paul to say: having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
This does not mean that I (nor Paul did) am in search of death. No way, I’ll be in this world as long as my Lord wants and I am available to be useful to His Kingdom. When our life is centered in Jesus Christ, we live for God’s purposes are fulfilled, not to satisfy our own interests and whims. If we die in Him, we know that awaits us eternal life, which is much better than we know. The need to stay as long as possible on Earth should be to serve the expansion of the Kingdom of our Father. God bless you.