When my husband was called into ministry, we knew this was a call for both of us. However, I had no idea at the time what exactly it meant that I would be sacrificing. The first sacrifice was that I would be moving (again) to go to the church that would be my husband's first ministry position. Then I realized after moving that I would also be sacrificing my career as a music therapist. At that time in my life, that was a huge part of who I was. But the circumstances were such that I wasn't going to find a music therapy job in that area that would pay enough to make it worth while to even work while we had young children. I didn't know it then, but I would never return to that career (at least so far) and I would eventually let my certification go. Since that first ministry job for my husband, we have moved a few more times. I had no idea that I would have to leave dear friends in each place and move further away from extended family with each move. We've had to let go of many more things as we have followed Christ, and I know that He will ask us to let go of more. It is never easy to let go of things and often times it even hurts, but God always does an amazing work in us as we allow Him to strip things away. Please read Colossians 1:24-25.
I know that Paul is writing more about the fact that he is in prison and has had terrible experiences because of preaching the Gospel. I am in no way trying to make a comparison of my life with the sufferings of Paul; however, I want to look at these verses from a counter-cultural perspective for a moment. I know some of you who read this post are from other parts of the world and your culture is different from mine, so I would challenge you to think about your own culture and what these verses could mean where you are at. In America these verses are a little difficult to grasp because we do everything we can to ease suffering. It is counter cultural to read, "I am glad when I suffer for you in my body..." But Jesus wasn't about fitting in to the culture, He was defining what it meant to be His follower. Jesus told us that there would be sacrifices in following Him. He said in Mark 10:29-30, "'Yes,' Jesus replied, 'and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.'"
Basically, Paul knew that his suffering came because of the Good News he was sharing with everyone he met. I am going to ask a bold question, and keep in mind that I am asking this of myself. What would happen in our world and our culture if every one of us who believe in Christ were willing to be uncomfortable for Him? That is a tough question to ask, isn't it? Am I willing to suffer? What do I need to let go in order to follow Christ unhindered? I want to look at this a little more tomorrow because there is more to this, but for today consider what God may be asking you to let go. But as you think about this, remember Jesus' promise - in the world to come the person who is willing to let go of things to follow Christ will have eternal life.
What do you need to let go?
This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.