I’ve heard of people refusing to be baptized simply because they don’t want to be seen with their hair wet! Can such a person really be a disciple of Jesus? What would you think of a bride or groom too embarrassed to get up in front of a church to say their wedding vows? Do they understand what marriage is about? You’d say, they just don’t get it. And many who are a part of that crowd of people who gathered around Jesus just didn’t understand that when Jesus calls a man, to use the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he bids him come and die. They want a casual relationship, but he won’t have it. It simply can’t work that way.
And what is so sad about this deception is that many people try this kind of co-habiting Christianity and find it dull, boring and entirely unfulfilling. Consequently, they either give it up altogether, or just continue to go through the motions, engaging in religious activities, with no expectations, no satisfaction and no joy. It’s the same way many people respond to a cohabiting relationship, and so they reject marriage, when, in fact, they’ve never tried it.
But just as God created us to prosper as men and women together in the relationship of marriage which is by definition, exclusive and unconditional, so God has created us to prosper as human beings in a relationship with himself which is by definition, exclusive and unconditional. Anything less is a poor imitation of the real thing.
Once we see Christ for who he is, and we taste the sweetness of his love and grace, we will not see these words of Jesus as some onerous demand upon us. Instead, we will see this as our natural response to his beauty and grace. What joy we will find in offering him more and more of ourselves! Our deepest desire will be to grow in our knowledge of Christ. This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
By the way, I saw a new military ad on television not long ago. It was from the Marines. It said, “We don’t accept applications, only commitments.” I think Jesus would agree. Being a disciple of Jesus requires our all—and he desires to give you his all. There can be no greater joy than that.
Bill Kynes, Ph.D. studied philosophy at the University of Florida, where he also played quarterback and was inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, receiving an M.A. in theology. He has an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Cambridge University. Bill has served as senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Annandale, Virginia, since 1986. He and his wife Susan have four boys: Will, Matthew, Cameron, and Cason.
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