Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The cost of discipleship

A link to an old article by Mike Breen popped up on an RSS feed a couple of days ago. As I recall from the first time I read the article (it's about why the missional movement will fail), the gist of his argument lies in the principle that if you make disciples you will always get church, but if you make church you won't necessarily get disciples.

Well yesterday, in one of those wonderfully relevant but totally unconnected ways, I found myself reading what Jesus had to say about being a disciple in Luke 14. We all know that Jesus said the cost of being a disciple was high. Love for others would look like in comparison to loving him; everything you own would be surrendered; you'd need to carry a cross; home, family, personal ambition, security and comfort would all be sacrificed. No wonder then that it is through these disciples that Jesus will change the world. Having given up so much for the cause of Christ, they are the ones who live wholeheartedly for the kingdom.

But what about those of us who have stuff? How exactly do we live out the radical call to discipleship that Jesus makes in our 21st century world? We have savings, houses, cars and clothes. We have goals and ambitions, dreams and plans. All must be subsumed under the authority of Jesus if we are going to live out the discipled life that will change the world.

I guess the issue most of us face is how do we balance the call to give away everything we possess and follow Jesus, with the simple fact that most of us would find that impossible to do. space in the wardrobe and garage wouldn't be a bad thing, but reducing my relationship with God to something measured by what I don't have seems just as ridiculous as measuring it by what I do have. Is a poverty gospel any more spiritual or less harmful than a prosperity gospel?

Discerning when Jesus uses hyperbole to make a point is sometimes glaringly obvious and sometimes really difficult to see. To what extent does Jesus push the thinking of the rich young man beyond rote obedience to the law by raising the stakes and calling him to abandon his wealth, but actually not expecting him to do it? I don't know, but clearly the young man has much to think about how he measures his life and its worth.

I guess in the end we have to keep asking questions, we have to keep searching our hearts to see where our treasure is located. Do I possess my possessions or do they possess me? Do they get in the way of following Jesus, or rather how much do they get in the way?

No comments: