Our leadership team has quarterly gathering for training, development, and typically some really good breakfast and lunch. This quarter we spent the entire training day in discussion about what does it mean to really follow Jesus. We utilized Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship as a basis for discussion. This was an amazing day for me, and yet another hope for the glory of God in light of a fallen world for which I’m clearly the worst.
This was extremely encouraging for me because you had leaders who not only were looking to be developed in their leadership capabilities; the recruiting volunteers, setting programs, setting plans, and meetings. But just as important is that we came together and spent the majority of the time discussing what it means to be a disciple. What it means to follow the incarnate Christ who came into the world. I think there is one word that summarizes the day: tension.
It is easy to read some of Bonhoeffer’s statements and conclude in our American culture that he’s dogmatic and black and white until you go read a few lines from Jesus saying very similar things. When His word to us is living and active. When Jesus is not just a suggestive teacher but His word in truth in word and deed tension is the proper response.
I cannot speak for anyone else there but I find the path to follow is not easy. A constant turmoil between what is inside and what Jesus asks from me. What my history is versus His history which goes back further. What I see my life unfolding to be and what Jesus tells me (usually unfolded only in part because I probably cannot handle the whole thing at once.) It creates an internal tension. A constant sorting and resorting and throwing out. A lot of nightmares for me that feel so vivid I am shook. And if I didn’t have some disciples along the way reminding me to look at what He is doing right now (remember to stay in the present moment also) I would have probably lost it.
Tension is the plight I believe of when you are on the right path. And I believe this is where grace value is increased. That is to say when you know you are on the right path walking in the right direction. You add up all that you do and know you are still at the start line of a marathon and know this while simultaneously know that Christ has provided you an imperishable reward at the finish line is when grace is not cheap. But its that tension that comes along with the run from there.
I hate it. But I would not change it. If this is the path necessary to complete dependence of God then I’m learning to say “you have done all things well.” And as much as the struggle is painful at times and I deal with feeling lonely I know this is what is best. Every once in a while you get glimpses that you are alright. And God graciously sends someone along the way to push you further and remind you that you are ok…or that you are going to be ok. Its a lonely journey but not one where you are completely alone always.
The rest of the group may have been different in their thoughts but what I did see is probably the second most encouraging thing for me. I saw the church have a candid discussion about what it means to be the essence of who we are. We can talk about being a Christian, or titles like “church member”, “board member”, etc. But when you tarry through what it means to follow a living person in life. When you discuss what Dallas Willard says “to be with Him learning to be like HIm.” You realize that this is not an easy discussion and but it is one that is only effective in the Church. Today I saw the church gather in a facility and tarry through bearing one another’s differences to learn how to follow Jesus. And for that reason I am very humbled and appreciative.