The Cost of Discipleship

joel

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.

Comments?

Joel

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El Costo del Discipulado

Por Joel Comiskey

Hay dos cosas que se han destacado para m en los últimos dies años, desde que regresé de Ecuador:

• Cómo la gente emocionalmente son disfuncionales (y me estoy incluyendo).

• Qué difcil es ser transparente y crecer en una comunidad de creyentes.

Sin embargo, esto no es nuevo. Se remonta al Jardn del Edén cuando Adán se escondió de Dios. No ha cambiado mucho desde entonces.

Me he dado cuenta de que muchas personas vienen a la iglesia con todos los adornos externos de éxito. Incluso quieren participar en programas y actividades. Sin embargo, con el tiempo el dolor emocional y la disfuncionalidad comienzan a aparecer. Por supuesto, ésto es lo que debe suceder cuando las personas interactúan con otros en un grupo de vida de la comunidad. Sin embargo, a menudo me entristeció al ver a estas personas correr. Corren de las personas que quieren cuidar de ellos y hacerlos responsables. Ellos llegan con frecuencia a una iglesia grande donde pueden esconderse en el anonimato.

En el pequeño grupo de Cristo haban doce, Él esperaba que sus discpulos resolvieran sus diferencias. A medida que vinieron conflictos personales, el mundo notó que Cristo estaba entre ellos y que la Trinidad estaba trabajando. Cristo quera que sus discpulos enfrentaran sus problemas y no huyeran de ellos.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer descubrió lo mismo cuando decidió volver a Alemania estando cómodo en los EE.UU, a mediados de la 2da guerra mundial. Él saba que no podra vivir consigo mismo si abandonaba a sus hermanos en el tiempo de la prueba. As que decidió sufrir con sus hermanos alemanes y mientras lo haca, escribió un libro, “El Costo del Discipulado”. En este libro Bonhoeffer diferencia “la gracia barata” de la verdadera gracia que obra a través de los conflictos y ayuda a las personas a cambiar desde el interior mediante el poder de Dios.

Jesús moldeó a sus doce discpulos en la intimidad del medio ambiente de un hogar y envió a los discpulos de casa en casa después de que el Espritu Santo vino en Pentecostés. En Hechos, se usan otros términos para “discpulos”, como “hermanos/hermanas”, “cristianos”, “santos”, etc. ¿Por qué el cambio? Porque fue debido a que los discpulos en el Nuevo Testamento se hacan a través de la iglesia. Dios ha llamado a la iglesia a dar forma a sus discpulos en este tiempo.

Nosotros no “vamos” a la iglesia para ser discpulos. El discipulado no se lleva a cabo al estar sentado, batiendo las manos o uniéndose a un programa de la iglesia. Jesús nos llama al discipulado en comunidad ya que compartimos un compromiso los unos con los otros. En lugar de correr de un conflicto, vamos a dejar que el Espritu Santo nos haga discpulos fuertes a medida que interactuamos con otros en la comunidad.

¿Comentarios?

Joel

4 thoughts on “The Cost of Discipleship

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes! My husband and I when we went to Europe especially went to Berlin to go to the Bonhoeffer House.a kind of pilgrimage! Discipleship in community is not easy and as Bonhoeffer writes, it is not “cheap grace” but “costly grace”! It asks for personal sacrifice, the costly part discipleship. It costs one, one’s life and gives one true life – or grace
    Another of his books well worth a read is Life Together, giving practical advice on Christian fellowship.

  • Marianne, thanks for the reference to that book. Will make sure to read it, because we don’t want “cheap grace” and “cheap information” from “cheap authors” today! We want the NT kind of life and grace & church!

    Joel, thanks for this excellent article! We appreciate your insights that come through a deep and costly walk with GOD! We appreciate you Brother!

  • Could church or even cell group or house church be a hindrance to making disciples? Once I used to organize house churches and invite people to come with the hope that they would become disciples.

    Now we do it a little differently as we seek to follow Jesus’ example. We begin by interviewing people and inviting them to “come with us as we follow Jesus” (rather than just “follow us”).

    When people agree to this commitment, we gather together to learn to be disciple-makers in an organic community setting we do call a house church. Everyone knows that we gather together to learn in order to obey all of the commands of Jesus. It is much harder strategy, but it is exciting and a joy to be with people with a predisposed passion to be like Jesus and then to recruit others to walk with them in their walk with Jesus in the formation of a new house church of disciples learning to become disciple-makers like Jesus.

    However, going to church–is that really healthy or a terrible deception for many? The gathering or meeting together is wonderful. The worship is wonderful and God definitely moves people through such gatherings. They definitely are part of God’s work, but … Well, I wonder why Jesus did not set up His “Jesus synagogue” in Capernaum? Wouldn’t it have been much more efficient? Why did He not take full advantage to establish a new work with the 5,000 men and their families when He fed them? He had a mega church in only on one day. Instead, he moved on with … with only 12 disciples. Hmmm!! What was He thinking?

  • Rendir cuentas en el contexto de la iglesia y el dsicipulado, debería ser uno de los elementos vitales de la vida en Cristo. Lamentablemente todavía batallamos con nuestra identidad y nuestro deseo de auto protección al cuidar que otros no sepan nuestro dolor, nuestras debilidades y, menos de nuestros fracasos. Sin embargo, la iglesia sigue siendo el medio provisto por el Señor para proveer ese ambiente de intimidad y transparencia que nos permita crecer como discípulos de Jesús. Estoy de acuerdo en cuánto valor la célula puede proveer para crear ese ambiente. Ojalá los pastores puedan valorar esto y ser ellos un modelo de transparencia mientras discipulan a otros.

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