Tuesday is for Thinking
There are some decisions that followers of Christ are free to make.
- Should I worship with that church body or this one?
- Should I read my Bible in the morning or the evening?
- Should I marry this person or not?
YOU DECIDE, BUT ONLY “IN THE LORD”
- Should I take this job or that job?
The breadth of complete freedom is too vast to enumerate. We have freedom to choose almost anything in any category so long as it fits in the framework of “in whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)
Some of those decisions are easy to discern.
Should I love my neighbor as myself? YES
Should I devote myself to the apostles teaching? YES
Should I assemble regularly with other believers? YES
Should I keep myself from the love of money? YES
Should I love God with all my heart, mind, and strength? YES
Should I forgive those who have sinned against me? YES
Should I feed the poor, care for widows, visit those in prison? YES
On the other hand, there are a whole host of things that we cannot do.
To start with, I can’t take as optional all the things that I am commanded to do. Jesus said the process of becoming a disciple meant entering a life-long process of learning to obey all that He commanded (Matthew 28:16-20). I can’t take ANY command that Jesus gave and say, “that doesn’t apply to me.” If I am His follower, if He is my Lord, the option of deliberate non-compliance is not open to me. I may (and all of us do) fall short but relying on His Holy Spirit to empower, we get up, confess our sin, and begin again, rejoicing that every failure is covered by His atoning sacrifice.
Can I choose to be invisible for Christ? NO
Can I put my light under a basket and not shine for Christ? NO
Can I not witness for Christ (I’m shy)? NO
Can I not be salt (preserving and protecting my culture)? NO
We all may choose different tactics and ways to do these things but we must do them. The only way to answer these questions with a YES is to be an admirer of Christ but not a follower of Christ or to be an unbeliever and antagonist of Christ. But if we are truly His disciple all of these questions must be answered with a firm NO. The German martyr, Deitrich Bonhoeffer understood this and we would be wise to heed his call (with Jesus) to a deeper, richer, bolder discipleship.
“The only decision possible for them [disciples] has already been made. Now they have to be what they are, or they are not following Jesus. The followers are the visible community of faith: their discipleship is a visible act which separates them from the world—or it is not discipleship. And discipleship is as visible as light in the night, as a mountain in the flatland.
To flee into invisibility is to deny the call. Any community of Jesus which wants to be invisible is no longer a community that follows him.
(Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, 2001, 113).