Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Suffragette.
Watch it. No, really. I don't care if you don't approve of their militant actions. Nor if you think that feminism has 'gone too far'. Everyone should see it.
As the lights came up and I hastily sorted my smudged eyes, I realised that my limited knowledge of suffragettes had come mainly from Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins. Sure, I had heard about force-feeding and some woman stepping in front of the king's horse... but it had remained an interesting, fantastical piece of general knowledge (like most other history lessons, really).
Instead of a rambunctious upper-class lady partial to breaking into song, I was confronted with the reality of suffrage. Malnourished, shamed and homeless women, giving everything - jobs, husbands, children - for this cause they believed in. It was inspiring to see this relatively recent show of sacrifice. These women believed they were fighting for something greater than their own lives, greater than commitment to husbands or children. And this demonstration of giving up everything felt rather alien to me.
Which is ironic, I guess, given that I've been a Christian for however many years and know Jesus' teaching about "take up your cross and follow me". It's just that as a teenager, that meant putting up with being mocked at school for my faith; and as an adult, accepting that the 'pool' of prospective romantic partners becomes pretty small if you narrow the search to only Christians. Are these things sacrifice? I'm not sure. They haven't stopped me from carving out the idea of a pleasant time on earth, enjoying fullness of life through Jesus and (hopefully) having a vaguely merry time of it.
[NB. Good news: faith in Jesus doesn't mean your life will be awful - that's *not* what I'm trying to say.]
But the idea that I have something so much greater even than women's rights or social justice, to give up my life for - I guess it just hasn't really had to occur to me living in the millennial Western world.
It's never occurred to me that I might actually have to give everything for the sake of the gospel. In theory, I've known and accepted it: but the chance of having to give up home, familial relationships or life for the gospel has always (thankfully) been pretty low.
What am I saying? Not that we should give up our current lives and go live in caves, or off of wild locusts and honey. But just that when you remember the call of Christian sacrifice - being prepared to give our lives, even - and the hope set before us in Jesus, it changes your perspective on Right Now.
If the core of who I am is striving for God's glory, his kingdom, seeing his face - then the tiny sacrifices I make now will be fairly insignificant. The idea of not getting married seems rather inconsequential when I'm faced with what any sacrifice would be for: the reality of Jesus; the truth of salvation; the hope of everything we've been promised.