Christianity 201

February 27, 2011

Discipleship Equals Sacrificial Living

Enzo Cortes is active in student ministry and writes at Zoy Sauce Etc. — love the blog name — where this appeared earlier today under the title Peter and Paul: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship.

For a while, I’ve been reflecting on the life of Peter. Jesus called him when he was doing fine in the seafood industry. Peter left his livelihood to follow Jesus. Matthew 4:18-20 (see parallel in Mark 1:16-18) says:

18While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

But at the end of his life, as tradition says, he was crucified upside down, because he did not feel worthy to die as Jesus did. (This is fulfillment of the prediction of John 21:18-19). He was called by Jesus, only to be martyred in the end.

So I’m tempted to ask him, “Was it worth it to be a disciple of Jesus?”

I also reflected on the life of the apostle Paul. He was “was advancing in Judaism beyond many of [his] own age among [his] people, so extremely zealous was [he] for the traditions of [his] fathers” (Galatians 1:14). But on his way to Damascus to persecute the believers, God was pleased to reveal his Son to him (v.15). But in the end, Paul was beheaded, as tradition again says.

I ask him as well, “Was it worth it?”

Jesus answers my questions for them. Matthew 10:37-39 says:

37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Emphasis added)

Mark 10:29-30 says:

29Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Emphasis added)

If this is the case, then the rewards of discipleship far outweighs the costs.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”1 Indeed, the cost of discipleship is great, but the rewards are infinitely greater. Conversely, the cost of non-discipleship is greater, and the loss is infinitely devastating.

Following Jesus is worth it!


1Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (London: SCM Press, 1964), 79.

January 30, 2011

Imitate Me, As I (try to) Imitate Christ

Jon Swanson’s blog, 300 Words a Day is one of a very few listed in this blog’s sidebar because of his consistent devotional focus.   This piece appeared there several days ago under the much simpler (!) title, Being a Model…

Am I living a life I’d want someone to copy?

Why not?

Those two sentences found their way into my journal over the weekend, as I was thinking about a presentation I’ve got coming up. I’m going to talk about being and making disciples. (That subject has shown up as my one word and in my list of 8 ways to get better at following.)

As I thought about the idea of making disciples, of developing followers, I realized that part of making a disciple is being willing to be a model.

I hate that. So do you. The last thing we want is for someone to use our life as a pattern. We know all of the ways that we fail. We know all the strategies that don’t work. We know how we don’t measure up. We know how we hurt someone we love.  We are, we think, models for spiritual failure.

But I think I’m wrong.

Paul consistently said, “Here are my failures. Here’s what I don’t do well. Here’s what God does wonderfully, sometimes in spite of me, sometimes through me.” He said this especially to Timothy, his most mentioned disciple. (A working definition of a disciple is a person who chooses to allow the life and teaching of someone to shape his/her own life.)

Helping people learn how to follow Jesus doesn’t mean being perfect.

It means being translucent, keeping the details hidden but allowing the outline of your humanity to show. It means acknowledging the failures and the forgiveness. It means showing when you let your mouth get ahead of your brain, here is how you ask forgiveness.

When you don’t know how to talk to God, here’s where you start. When you feel like you aren’t measuring up, here’s how you stop trying so hard.

~ Jon Swanson