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The Cost of Discipleship
By Joel Comiskey
- Two things have stood out to me in the last ten years since coming back from Ecuador:
- how emotionally dysfunctional people are (and I’m including myself)
how difficult it is to be transparent and grow in a community of believers.
Yet, this is not new. It goes back to the garden of Eden when Adam hid from God. Not much has changed since then.
I’ve noticed that many people come to church with all the outward trappings of success. They even want to get involved in programs and activities. Yet, over time the emotional pain and dysfunctionality begins to appear. Granted, this is what should happen when people interact with others in a life-giving community group. Yet, I’m often grieved to see these people run. They run from the people who want to care for them and hold them accountable. They often run to a big church where they can hide in anonymity.
In Christ’s small group of twelve, he expected his disciples to work out their differences. As they overcame personal conflicts, the world noticed that Christ was really among them and that the Trinity was at work in their midst. Christ wanted his disciples to face their problems and not to run from them.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer discovered the same thing when he decided to go back to Germany from his comfortable status in the U.S in the midst of World War 2. He knew he could not live with himself if he forsook his brethren in their time of trial. He decided to suffer with his German brethren and while doing so wrote the book, The Cost of Discipleship. In this book Bonhoeffer differentiates “cheap grace” from the true grace that works through conflict and helps people to change inwardly through the power of God.
Jesus molded his twelve disciples in the intimacy of the house environment and sent those same disciples house to house after the Spirit came on Pentecost. In Acts, other terms are used for “disciples” like “brothers/sisters,” “Christians,” “saints,” etc. Why the change? Partly because disciple-making in the New Testament is done through the church. God has called the church to shape disciples in this present age.
We don’t “go” to church to become disciples. Discipleship doesn’t take place through sitting, shaking a few hands, or joining a church program. Jesus calls us to discipleship in community as we share a commitment to one another. Rather than running from conflict, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to make us stronger disciples as we interact with one another in community.