MAN TO MAN -- Saved for Discipleship: A Lenten meditation
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
The Lenten study book that we are using at my church is entitled, “40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonheoffer.” During Lent, our clergy are doing a sermon series based on Bonheoffer’s book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” This has caused me to consider the fact that, while our salvation is “free,” our discipleship is not.
In reality, our salvation, while freely provided to us, was actually purchased for us. The required price was the blood of “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” (Jn. 1:29)
A modern analogy might be a gift card. Somebody actually pays money for the piece of plastic they give you (free) so that you can take it to the store and get something without having to pay for it (free). That is, you redeem the piece of plastic for merchandise. That’s why we Christians consider ourselves a “redeemed” people. The difference is that only Jesus is able to pay the price for our “gift card.”
Discipleship, on the other hand, is not free.
True discipleship is going to cost the individual a lot! As a matter of fact, it will cost you your self identity! (Lk. 9:23-24) Jesus told Nicodemus that it was like being born all over again. On several occasions, Jesus told His followers what it would cost them to become one of His disciples, and to count the cost before embarking on such a journey. (Lk. 14:26-28) Peter, James, John and Matthew all walked away from their livelihood in order to become Jesus’ disciples. In His parable about the pearl of great price (Mt. 13:45-46), the person sold all that he had in order to possess it. Another example of the cost of discipleship is the account of the young man who approached Jesus and asked Him what he must do to gain eternal life. (Mk. 10:17-22) He was a good person, asking the right question, but there was a price to be paid to possess what he desired. Unfortunately, the young man, unlike the person who found that pearl he had been looking for, was not willing to pay that price.
The journey of a true disciple is fraught with choices and challenges that will require us the deny ourselves, that is, our ego-centered tendencies, in order to walk the path Christ sets for His disciples. Peter and Paul both knew how difficult the journey can be. Peter, who said that he would never abandon Jesus (Mt. 26:33), found himself denying Him three times. Paul laments that he finds himself doing the very things he despises, rather than the good he desires. Yet, they both experienced the free grace of God that was purchased for them on the cross at Calvary.
Grace, by definition, is free, but true discipleship will cost you. Are you willing to pay the price?