Sunday, November 11, 2007

3 Qutoes on Discipleship

In the past few days a couple of books about discipleship have arrived in the mail. The first was Bill Hull's Choose the Life. I gobbled that one down pretty quickly. It is not exactly the book I was looking for, but it definitely got me thinking. Hull writes:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ." Enough of the church has adopted a nondiscipleship Christianity to render it ineffective in its primary task--the transformation of individuals and communities into the image of Christ. This Christless Christianity has create leaders who are addicted to recognition and success and congregations that believe forsaking all things to follow Jesus is optional and a separate issue from salvation.
The latter part of Hull's book is directed at leaders and it becomes in some ways a typical "leadership" book, which I generally try to avoid like the plague.

The second book on discipleship is James Montgomery Boice's Christ's Call to Discipleship. This book came out back in 1986, so I suppose it ranks as a "classic" by now. Boice's opening paragraph:
There is a fatal defect in the life of Christ's church in the twentieth century: a lack of true discipleship. Discipleship means forsaking everything to follow Christ, but for many of today's supposed Christians -- perhaps the majority -- it is the case that while there is much talk about Christ and even more furious activity, there is actually very little following of Christ Himself. And this means in some circles there is very little genuine Christianity.
Those are stern and penetrating words -- the kind of words, in fact, that pierce to the very marrow. Just as an aside, I have come to think that we Christians have grown very shy of letting the Word of God pierce us in this way. How often do we really allow God to question us the way He questioned Job? And it so happens much of what Jesus had to say that was challenging and "piercing" had to do with discipleship.

As it happens, Boice also quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who is famous for writing about (and paying with his own life) The Cost of Discipleship:
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price, to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; and it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be askedfor, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
I've just started reading the Boice book. After that I will probably move on to reread Bonhoeffer's classic. So you can guess what I'll be posting about in the near future.

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