Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The cost

The past few weeks/months I've been working through what it means to be a disciple, or what it means to follow Jesus... what that looks like, what's required, and how to go about taking someone who is far away from God and making them into a transformed follower/disciple of Jesus.

One thing I know is that being a disciple is more about what you do and how you live than what you know. Discipleship and following Jesus isn't a knowledge based/intellectual exercise, but it's action-based where how I live, how I treat others, and what I do with my life, time, money, talents and relationships is really what Jesus would do if he were me in each of those areas.

One thing I am certain about is that following Jesus is costly, and unfortunately, most of us don't want to pay the price to really be a disciple. I read this quote by Rodney Stark, a sociologist, that I thought was worth pondering:
People value religion on the basis of cost, and they don’t value the cheapest ones the most. Religions that ask nothing get nothing. You can read the rest of his interview here.

To be a follower of Jesus costs us everything. Have we counted the cost? Are we willing to follow? Have we even taken the time to think through this or is our discipleship all about what we know?

As I work through what it means to be a disciple/follower of Jesus I'll be sharing what I learn. I would love your input and to hear your thoughts. From the lack of comments, Liz and I may be the only ones reading this. If that's not the case and someone else is reading then jump into the discussion. What does it mean to be a disciple/follower of Jesus?


At 5:46 PM, May 03, 2007 , Blogger Josh Spiers said...

Well, I guess I'll weigh in with a few thoughts here :)

I do read your blog regularly, but when school was going on I didn't have much time to post comments.

Anyway, I feel that the main problem in American christianity is that we have boiled Christianity down to a purely intellectual concept. We have become so anti-works that we have forgotten discipleship. Please understand that I do not promote works-based salvation. I am firmly against it! At the same time, I understand that Christ always gave a call to action--not just a call to intellectual assent.

If a person reads through the gospels they quickly realize that belief was never separated from action. Jesus consistently called people to follow Him--not just to believe in Him. On the other hand, following Him alone was not sufficient for salvation. In other words, a person had to talk the talk AND walk the walk. Neither was good enough on its own.

I think that James summed it up the best when he said that true faith produces true works, and if true works aren't present then true faith isn't present.

I guess what I'm saying is that we Americans have tried to separate belief from action, and that's impossible to do. Our reasons for doing it were noble--we were responding to brands of Christianity who taught that we are saved because of the works that we do. The problem is we did the pendulum effect--we swung too far to the other extreme. We failed to realize that belief can never be separated from action. Never. Period. It just can't happen.

So now, in 2007, we are left in the interesting position of having a bunch of people who have made professions of faith but who A) have no interest in actually following Christ (because it is nothing more than an intellectual concept to them), or B) have never been taught that they should follow Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this "cheap grace" in his book "The Cost of Discipleship," and I think that's a good name for it.

Anyway, those are the thoughts from the resident theology major lol. I expect that some people will read my comments and agree, while others will read them and think that I am promoting salvation through works. In reality, though, what I am saying is that I just do not think belief and works can ever be separated.


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