Tuesday is for Discipleship
People think a lot of ridiculous things about Christian discipleship.
They don’t know any better because they don’t read their Bibles. Or they read their Bibles but never examine their assumptions about what they read. Any reading material, but especially the Bible, is best read as an interrogator of reality.
So it was refreshing to read Bonhoeffer on the calling of the Levi into discipleship with Jesus in the second chapter of the Gospel of Mark. Bonhoeffer allows the text to speak and helps us to hear the call to discipleship with greater clarity. [I have broken up the longer paragraph of Bonhoeffer for the modern reader and added some bold emphasis.]
“The response of the disciples is an act of obedience, not a confession of faith in Jesus. How could the call immediately evoke obedience? The story is a stumbling-block for the natural reason, and it is no wonder that frantic attempts have been made to separate the two events… Something must have happened in between, some psychological or historical event. Thus we get the stupid question: Surely the publican must have known Jesus before, and that previous acquaintance explains his readiness to hear the Master’s call.
Unfortunately our text is ruthlessly silent on this point, and in fact it regards the immediate sequence of call and response as a matter of crucial importance. It displays not the slightest interest in the psychological reason for a man’s religious decisions. And why? For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ himself. It is Jesus who calls, and because it is Jesus, Levi follows at once. … Not a word of praise is given to the disciple for his decision for Christ. We are not expected to contemplate the disciple, but only him who calls, and his absolute authority.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p. 57f.
The Cost of Discipleship
Jesus is Lord, Master, Savior, God-in-the-flesh. He calls the world to discipleship. Those who heed the call, who obey Him, who follow Him are those who believe. Indeed, the only real proof that we have become a follower of Christ is that we take seriously His call to obey, which is what it means to follow Him.
Bonhoeffer’s words ring true. “We are not expected to contemplate the disciple [in this case, Levi], but only him who calls, and his absolute authority.”
Let the call and the word of Christ interrogate your reality. Everything depends on it.