You have to admit that our perspective is pretty messed up. The things we tend to put value on have no eternal value at all. The things we try to avoid are the things that are essential for our growth. We read and study the Bible and only hold on to the things that make us feel good. We like celebrating the victory without participating in the fight. We tell God to take our life and use us but when he does we fight him all the way. It's not meant to be this hard.
Something that should tell us that we don't quite get it is found in the book of Acts. It is the part where the apostles were arrested, questioned, beaten and then released. They did not come out of the prison shouting about their rights or demanding justice. They came out celebrating that they were considered worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. It doesn't mean we should go out looking to be beaten but it should tell us that our view of what is valuable is all wrong. It should tell us that our attitude is not exactly where God would want it to be.
When apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians he was writing from jail. This was likely his last letter written; this and 2 Timothy. He did not want them to be discouraged by his situation so in a paragraph he reminded them of who he had been and who he now was through Christ. Nothing had changed because of his circumstances. Just because he was in jail did not make him less of an apostle or unable to fulfil God's purpose for him. He summed it up with this:
I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. (Ephesians 3:13)
Paul was not in jail because he killed someone or because he was a thief. Paul was in jail because he lifted up Jesus Christ. He was suffering for the Name of Jesus and it was the glory of the Church. We seem to miss that in our living. Suffering for the Name should be celebrated not avoided.
I want to draw a distinct line here when it comes to suffering. Suffering for the Name is persecution, it is not putting up with poverty or cancer. We have been given authority over many things and disease is one of those things. Suffering for the Name is when we are carrying out the mission and trouble comes against us because of it. It is when you are sharing Jesus with someone and they spit in your face. It is when you get arrested for preaching on the street corner. It is when great men and women of learning call you an idiot and lost in the dark ages of superstition. It is when friends and family back away from you because you are too extreme in your faith.
How much do we really love Jesus? He said that if we love him we would obey him. Obedience is more than trying to live a good life. Obedience is to go because he told us to go and to do what he told us to do. "Make disciples", he said, not "build a life for yourself", "gain a reputation", "be well thought of". Live for me and the lost, is what Jesus said. Love as I have loved, Jesus said. Do greater things than I have done, Jesus said. Do not fear when the world hates you, it hated me first, Jesus said.
This life here is not about us. We occupying a dying vessel that is only meant for a temporary time. As clay vessels we only have a certain life span as we break easy, but we have been told to make the most of the opportunities we have. Live in complete freedom from this world with it's do's and don'ts and live with complete confidence in Jesus. Do not avoid suffering for the Name but instead learn to appreciate and celebrate it. Live in boldness and lift up the name of Jesus for the whole world to see. This is the glory of the Church, to live a life of unbridled love for Jesus and for the lost for whom he died. This is our life, so live it to it's fullest potential in Jesus Christ, our Lord, Saviour and King. Live large for Jesus!