Ross Douthat in his book Bad Religion writes, “In this America, too, the Christian teaching that every human soul is unique and precious has been stressed, by the prophets of self-fulfillment and gurus of self-love, at the expense of the equally important teaching that every human soul is fatally corrupted by original sin. Absent the latter emphasis, religion becomes a license for egotism and selfishness, easily employed to justify what used to be considered deadly sins. The result is a society where pride becomes healthy self-esteem, vanity becomes self-improvement, adultery becomes following your heart, greed and gluttony become living the American dream.”As Christians we are overwhelmed by the culture that surrounds us. We find the assumptions and beliefs of our society subtly taking root within the Christian community. Many Christians know next to nothing about Hudson Taylor, William Carey, John Newton and the thousands of dedicated Christians who followed in their footsteps. Yet, they know the names of every movie actor, the plot of most television programs and the statistics of their favorite sports team.
There is nothing wrong with being a sports fan, liking television and enjoying great movies, but there is something wrong when we abandon the roots of our faith for such activities. There has to be a balance in our lives if we are to grow spiritually. Self-help books and self-esteem weekends disguised as Christianity are no substitutes for having a relationship with God. Much of what passes for Christianity is little more than a promotional scheme to draw in the unsuspecting and then entice them with promises of prosperity and success. It is no wonder that the church has so little power and so many members are nominal at best. If the Christian church is to impact our society, then we need to become committed to our spiritual journey.
Dietrich Bonhoffer wrote in his book the Cost of Discipleship, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… it is grace without discipleship… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must know… It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” Bonhoffer lived a life of discipleship and it led to his eventual arrest at the hands of the Nazis for conspiring to assassinate Hitler. He was executed in 1945. God may not call us to such radical discipleship, but He does call us to discipleship.
In my last post I mentioned that we should take some time to pray and study the Bible. If we are to grow then we need to know God’s desires and plans for our lives. Discipleship is simply putting our time at God’s disposal to instruct and teach us His will. As we began to understand God’s love, our lives will fall into harmony with His will. To be a follower of Jesus has a cost in time and energy, but a far greater reward because we become better acquainted with the kindness and mercy of God’s grace.