The Meaning of Discipleship

Beloved Disciple
July 30, 2014

One problem with familiarity is that we sometimes become forgetful of the real meaning of that with which we have become too familiar.  This is true for words, concepts, people, events, etc. and it is certainly true for the meaning of Christian discipleship.  Jesus warned that becoming His disciple was not like joining a card club.  Christian discipleship is radical, it means total and complete commitment; to be an authentic Christian means to be "all in."  Jesus warned that He preferred a Christian to be cold rather than lukewarm (Rev  3:16).

In explaining the radical nature of Christian discipleship, Jesus tells us that anyone who puts any creature before Him, even family or one's very life, is not able to be His disciple (Lk 14:26).  Discipleship comes with the Cross; it might be helpful to watch Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ again to remind ourselves what the Cross is.  It means a total gift of ourselves to God, even to the loss of life (Lk 14:26-27).  This is not a warning but a promise.  The Cross will take many forms, but Jesus tells us that we can be sure it is coming (Jn 15:20).   Yet, the Cross is a blessing (Mt 5:11-12).  Nevertheless, Jesus warns that one must take the measure himself before committing to such a demand (Lk 14:28-32).  But He also tells us that such a yoke is easy and light (Mt 11:30).  This teaching is hard, but beatifying.

Our familiarity with passages about the demands of discipleship tend to blunt our recognition of the radical nature of such demands.  We hear about the need to "hate" (i.e. to put in second place) parents and one's life, to take up our Cross, to accept being reviled for His sake and we give it a nod without asking ourselves what this means for us, if it reflects the way we live.  We can hear the passage about the rich young man who went away sad and look at him with a smug, pity (Mt 19:21-22). However, we must recognize that he understood the real consequences of the demand Jesus was making upon him.  Do we?  See our tutorial for more on the New Evangelization and Discipleship.


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