Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “The Cost of Discipleship.” I haven’t read it, but it’s on my bookshelf ready to be picked up at some point. Along with the other 1000 books on my shelves. I love books – just having them on the shelves makes me feel like I have learned something. Of course I’ve read many of them also and have learned a great deal from them. How I have read them and interacted with them has changed over time too. I don’t just read a book anymore – I have a conversation with a book and author. I ask the book questions and offer criticism to the arguments presented.
And it is in this way that I have been thinking about discipleship lately. Discipleship is more than just a list of things that a follower of Jesus does. It’s a conversation with Jesus. A conversation that is in words, prayer, response, and action.
The marks of discipleship are important because they give us a direction – something that we can grab onto and let us know if we are moving in the path of discipleship.
And yet, there is more – much more. Discipleship starts with a conversation with God. The mark of discipleship are ways we respond and ways to measure how we are doing in relation to what we should be doing and how we are doing with our relationship with God. They show us how broken we are and how we fail because of that brokenness. They also show us where God is acting in our lives and transforming us.
Discipleship is not easy. It’s not easy to be vulnerable. It’s not easy to carry out the Sermon on the Mount. It’s not easy to turn the other cheek. It’s not easy to live in discipleship. Our world makes it easy to be hopeless, judgmental, a seeker of revenge, one who believes and lives out that might makes right, a seeker of power, someone who separates people, etc. Our world thrives on these things and more. This is what sin does – it pushes people towards chaos and darkness.
Yet discipleship means being a light in the world of darkness – someone who rejects the ways of the world and all it offers. The world is rejected because it doesn’t really offer anything at all – just a promise of death ultimately.
Discipleship means life – life lived alternately. Life that empowers and enhances life. Life that encourages. Life that recognizes the brokenness around us and seeks to offer a true fix to the brokenness.
Discipleship isn’t easy. But like most things that aren’t easy, it is worth it. It’s what keeps us going forward each day.