I have become a lover of sushi. My love for sushi was first discovered when Ryan took me to Portland City Grill for happy hour once when we were dating. This was my first sushi experience and I was less then excited to say the least. I'm pretty sure I even thought to myself, "would he still want to date me if I plugged my nose when I eat it?". I didn't, but I know the thought crossed my mind.
I sat there and thought how I could gracefully get that entire sushi roll into your mouth, using chopsticks none the less? And to make matters worse, there was wasabi too! So, not only did I have to somehow gracefully get this huge sushi roll into my mouth in one piece using nothing but chopsticks, but I also had to first dip it in soy sauce with wasabi? Please, you have got to be kidding me!
It's funny the things you will do when you're dating...
At the time, I didn't think I would like sushi, but now almost four years later, you'll often hear me say to Ryan, "I'm really craving sushi right now". You have no idea how much these words are music to my husbands ears because he loves sushi just as much as me, maybe more!
All this to say, last Friday night was one of those nights. I think Ryan and I were both secretly craving sushi, we just couldn't help ourselves. We made our way to the sushi bar down the street, ordered a few rolls and waited. And waited. And waited. And we watched the people who had just say down not ten minutes earlier get their three orders of sushi when we had been waiting for over forty five minutes. Interesting. Okay, kind of annoying actually. My husband, the patient one, calmly tells me to relax and not to worry. A few more minutes pass by and everyone around us is enjoying their sushi and we still don't have any. At this point, my husband too, begins to wonder why the sushi chef who's standing less then three feet in front of us filling sushi orders, continues to put all the other orders in front of ours.
Such affliction I tell you!
But eventually, the sushi did come and it was glorious!
Probably a poor comparison, but as I thought this morning on our sushi adventures from the other night, I couldn't help but think of II Corinthians 4:17 which says, "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison." Again, not the greatest analogy, but I've had this topic of suffering for the gospel on my mind lately.
I think that in America, few really know what it means to suffer for Christ, or more important, why we are to suffer for the gospel. Paul tells us in Romans that if we are children of God we are "heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Ro. 8:17) Paul goes on to say in verse 18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
Paul knew what it meant to suffer, to even be persecuted for the the gospel. I've never been persecuted like Paul was. I can't say that I've really even suffered for the gospel, but honestly, I think I'm missing out.
Last week I was completely blown away by a story that I read in Acts. In the story, Peter along with some of the other apostles were imprisoned for teaching and healing in the name of Jesus. Ultimately they were released from prison, but their response totally caught me off guard. "So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name." (5:41)
I have to be honest, I don't think this would have been my response at all! I would not be rejoicing. I would not be excited that I was found worthy to suffer shame for Jesus. This kind of thinking is truly foreign, but for the Christian, it shouldn't be. I'm just beginning to scratch the surface on this whole idea of being called to suffer. I'm having to re-wire my brain from the temporary comforts that I find myself enjoying in this life. Like me, many of you may just be a little too comfortable.
You might be a little to comfortable in your job. You go through each day at work but not many people you work with even know about your faith in Jesus Christ.
You might be a little to comfortable in your marriage. Things are going well, you're getting along, but it's a tad stale, you can't really remember the last time you asked your spouse what God is teaching them, or praying together that God would continue to break you as a couple for the things that bring glory to God and refine your marriage to be a blessing to others.
You might be a little to comfortable in your church. Sure, you go to church, but you aren't allowing yourself to be challenged and grow deeper with other believers.
You might be a little too comfortable in your conversations, with believers and non-believers. Are you asking questions to help take people into a deeper understanding of who God is?
This is all hard stuff (nothing like Ryan and I waiting for our sushi), I by no means have arrived, but I'm moved when I read Scriptures like the ones mentioned above to think with an eternal perspective, a Biblical perspective that says like Paul did in Philippians, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all thing, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ."