Monday, October 15, 2012

Discipleship according to Jesus

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels Luke 9: 25-26)

These words of Jesus are some of the most demanding words in Scripture. They are so challenging that I am often tempted to do one of two things: 

Close my eyes to these words as irrelevant to my life. 

Or try to mitigate the hard parts of this text and read it as metaphor--Jesus really doesn’t mean this, he wants me to be nice to everyone. In doing this I soothe my conscience and settle for a bland, safe, low-cost, and painless response.

But that won’t do. Luke 9 is one of the great chapters on discipleship. It’s the gospel according to Jesus. Jesus is not interested in building monuments; he is not seeking a statue erected in his honor; he is not trying to establish an army of zealots, or build a fan base, or run for political office and gain power. Jesus intends to change lives. And when he meets people, he invites them to follow him.

Being a disciple is hard. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity explains why:
Christ says, "Give me all. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think are wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own shall become yours."
            —C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity