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The Cost of Discipleship

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Cost of Discipleship. When did being a Christian become so easy?

Jesus in Luke chapter 9 makes it seem like he was trying to talk people out of following him: As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead![l] Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

I get cranky when the electricity isn’t working or when I get my feelings hurt because someone misunderstood me. I can picture what it would have been like for me to be with Jesus and he presented me with how high the bar was for being his follower. He probably would have shook his head and said that I was better off doing my own selfish things because I obviously wasn’t ready for the cost of discipleship.

But isn’t that what the cross is really about? God coming to us while we were yet sinners (selfish) to save us? I fine comfort in the stories of the Bible that show people who were not ready to serve God and God used them anyway (i.e. Moses & Peter come to mind). But it really bugs me that I have become so soft in my faith that little things derail my day. I look at my neighbors who struggle for daily existence and it makes me embarrassed.

Living in Rwanda has toughened my skin a bit. It has made me uncomfortable with the status quo of my former life. It has forced me to examine my beliefs to see what is from God (truth) and what is extra baggage I have picked up over the years. It has made me look at what the cost of discipleship is. Is my life anywhere near what Jesus himself has asked?

For many years I explained these tough discipleship verses away as only having deep spiritual meanings. After all Jesus isn’t REALLY asking us to sell everything we have to follow him. He isn’t REALLY calling us to be homeless and to turn our backs on our families. These things must have hidden spiritual meanings but not literal ones? Lately I have been convicted that “Jesus said what he meant and meant what he said” (thanks for book title Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo). I don’t know where this journey is leading but it certainly has shook up my world.

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