Have you ever thrown up your hands in the air, and exclaimed, “What are we doing?” It seems as if I’m doing that a lot these days, as I am continuing to wrestle with the idea of discipleship, and what it means for us in the church. This coincides with some of my uneasiness with a lot of the business and advertising structures and language that we use in chruch settings. What does it mean to really be a disciple? And have we lost the core message of discipleship? As I was wrestling through some of these things over the weekend, I was reflecting on what I believe to be the greatest book on discipleship ever written…outside of the Bible of course. You know it’s coming.
Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, also known as The Cost of Discipleship.
He is continually blowing me away, as he strips all the unnecessary things away in the Christian life, and looks at things with crystal clear clarity.
What is said about the content of discipleship? Follow me, walk behind me? That is all. Going after him is something without specific content. It is truly not a program for one’s life which would be sensible to implement. It is neither a goal nor an ideal to be sought……
Again, it is nothing other than being bound to Jesus Christ alone. This means completely breaking through anything preprogrammed, idealistic, or legalistic. No further content is possible because Jesus is the only content. There is no other content besides Jesus. He himself is it……
So the call to disicpleship is a commitment solely to the person of Jesus Christ, a breaking through of all legalisms by the grace of him who calls. It is a gracious call, a gracious commandment. It is beyond enmity between law and gospel. Christ calls; the disiple follows. That is grace and commandment in one…..
Discipleship is commitment to Christ. Because Christ exists, he must be followed. An idea about Christ, a doctrinal system, a general religious recognition of grace or forgiveness of sins does not require discipleship. It truth, it even excludes discipleship; it is inimical to it. One enters into a relationship with an idea by way of knowlege, enthusiasm, perhaps even by carrying it out, but never by personal obedient discipleship. Christianity without the living Jesus Christ remains necessarily a christianity without discipleship; and a Christianity without disicpleship is always a Christianity without Jesus Christ. It is an idea, a myth. (pp.58-59)
So I am wondering, and I ask myself? What am I committed to? What are we committed to? What is the content of our discipleship? Is it programs? Is it a charismatic pastor with good preaching skills? Is it a cool and hip worship band? Is it the cool community that worships on Sunday? Is it a denomination? Is it mission and vision statements?
What is the content? Is it solely a commitment to Jesus Christ? And have we sacrified this commitment to him, in order to preserve our “sacred cows” and the things that we hold dear?
One can go through the motions without actually being a disciple. One can learn information, knowleddge, and the right lingo, and function in a community, without being a disciple.
Sometimes I wonder what we are doing in the Church. And I am beginning to wonder and have questions about this.
What about you?