I’m reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s deep stuff. It has me thinking about discipleship—following Christ in a real way.
Here in America we tend to think of Christianity as a lot of do’s and don’ts. That’s not what it is. It’s about loving Christ so much, wanting Him to lead you, that you choose not to do things that would disappoint Him. The relationship is often described as a marriage. I like that analogy.
The Furry Guy and I will celebrate our 26th anniversary on Wednesday. After all of these years of loving one another, I know what pleases him. For instance, when I make dinner I don’t wash the skillet right away. He loves to eat the drippings and crumbles that are left in the pan. Is it wrong of me to wash the pan? Of course not. I usually don’t, though, because it pleases him. Am I telling other wives that they should wait until morning to wash their dinner skillets? No. Their husbands probably aren’t exactly like mine.
Each of us has a different and distinct relationship with the Lord. He calls each of us to do different things. There are some givens. You’re not to cheat on your spouse. You’re not to steal. The basics are pretty clear. It’s the details that vary. The Furry Guy and I sometimes enjoy glass of wine. Our son chooses not to touch alcohol. He doesn’t try to get us to give up our occasional drink (though if we started getting drunk he’d speak up), and we don’t try to convince him that he should indulge. His ministry/calling is different from ours.
Worship is another thing that can vary. The Furry Guy and I celebrated our anniversary this past weekend by going out to a wonderful little Italian restaurant and then shopping. Those are activities we both enjoy. It would be torture for other couples. When we attend services at our church we are total opposites. I sing loudly, clap, raise my hands, and dance. The Furry Guy does none of these things. If he’s holding a child he might bounce a little to the music. He’s simply more quiet in his expression of worship than I am. We’re both worshipping. We both love the Lord. We just express ourselves differently.
Discipleship is as individual as each of us. It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. We can share parts of our walk with one another, we can counsel and encourage one another, but each of us will walk with the Lord in our own unique way. That’s one big difference between religion and discipleship. Religion is a set of hoops to jump through. Discipleship is about listening and following.