Less Feathers and More Twine
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic work, The Cost of Discipleship, challenges the believer to forsake easy grace in favor of costly discipleship. But we who are alive and remain in the economically advantaged West really have no concept of what costly discipleship looks like. And because we have no concept, we trivialize the majors and major on the minors.
So what are the majors?
- Modern day Christianity is power-based. When we think we have the upper hand politically, we rejoice. When we don’t, we despair. Our exaggerated responses to political successes and failures shows how feeble our faith has become. We are a nation of idol worshipers.
- Major cultural shifts call for Biblically-sound responses. As Bible-believing Christians, we need to develop personal approaches to poverty, hardship and economic loss that provide a watching world with a Christianity that has the power to transform culture. That kind of Christianity is self-sacrificing.
- Our tweeting needs less feathers and more twine, less self-adulation and more self-effacement, less personal glorification and more God glorification. I know. I know. How do you do that in 140 characters or less? You read Christian history. You get to know men and women who lived and loved and sacrificed long before you were alive. And you need to begin to think like them.
- Our living needs the same. We cannot be saying that God has all the answers and living like all he does is answer our questions with blank stares, Bible verses taken out of context and moral platitudes. He’s bigger than that and so are His solutions for mankind. But they’ll cost us something. And that something is complete surrender to His will.
- Costly discipleship lies down and dies for the sake of the Gospel. This cannot be done while sitting on the sidelines and patiently observing the competition. Anything less than complete surrender is not worthy of our King.
- It matters who is in the White House. Saying that “Jesus is King” doesn’t minimize this truth. The fact that Jesus IS King should lead those who count themselves under His Kingship to not live in spiritual safe-houses or Christian ghettos during any presidential term, but instead, it should inspire us to get involved in practical ways within our culture to transform it. In other words, God doesn’t work through couch potatoes OR people who are too busy to engage with the culture in which they live.
- As a whole, the Church needs to get better at discerning “God’s blessing” and “God’s judgment.” We do this by becoming familiar with how God has worked in history and the place we should start is the Word of God. This isn’t just an intellectual exercise. We need to know what characterizes blessing and what characterizes judgment, so that we can respond appropriately. Judgment requires repentance. Blessing should produce thanksgiving.
And the minors? They’re not important. If the Church can successfully address the majors, we’ll be much better equipped to deal with success or with failure when the next election rolls around. Costly discipleship demands our everything.