The call to discipleship
The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works. In our subsequent chapters we shall try to find a message for those who are troubled by this problem, and for whom the word of grace has been emptied of all its meaning. This message must be spoken for the sake of truth, for those among us who confess that through cheap grace they have lost the following of Christ, and further, with the following of Christ, have lost the understanding of costly grace. To put it quite simply, we must undertake this task because we are now ready to admit that we no longer stand in the path of true discipleship. We confess although our Church is orthodox as far as her doctrine of grace is concerned, we we are no longer sure that we are members of a Church which follows its Lord. We must therefore attempt to recover a true understanding of the mutual relation between grace and discipleship. The issue can no longer be evaded. It is becoming clearer every day that the most urgent problem besetting our Church is this: How can we live the Christian life in the modern world? (this text was made by D. Bonhoeffer, see his book “The Cost of Discipleship”, Chapter 1)
Gospel of Mark 2.14: And as he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the place of toll, and he saith unto him: “Follow me!” And he arose, and followed him.
Is Jesus mad? Who shall collect the toll, when Levi leaves his place? What will the Romans say? What shall be the livelihood of Levi now? All this questions Mark doesn’t deal with, because they are unnecessary. By intention Mark didn’t note more than this short text, because he doesn’t want to answer this questions.
We must take in account that Christ, the Son of God, is the calling one. The highest person of the universe (higher than emperor or king) comes to Levi, and requires him to follow. The highest one doesn’t have to justify himself for his action.
When Levi arose, and follwed, he became a believer.
Believer means believer, as we understand it today.
God calls Levi, and under the influence of this powerful call, Levi subordinates himself under the rule of God, that means, he becomes a believer.
Are we allowed to imitate Levis action 1:1? Answer: The action of Levi means for us, to let Jesus rule all areas of our life, when he calls us. Considering Levi, Peter, John etc. we must take in account that Jesus actually had a task for them, which was more important than their earthly profession: Fishing human beings.
Yet when Jesus lived on earth, there were a lot of disciples and he just ordained 12 of them to be apostles. The most of us will first stay in their job, but it is chrystal clear for them, that their job can be placed to disposal for kingdom of heavens sake everytime.
There is no need for explanation that there are jobs, not compatible with Christianity: Pimp, publisher of porn, prostitute, casino-boss, pub-boss etc..
Even in a honorable profession sometimes a decision is necessary: It can happen that someone must shift his working place, because the boss requires things, bringing someone in conflict with the commandments. Lorry driver is a very honorable profession, but what will be, when the boss requires someone to defraud, concerning the times of rest. The fraud would be the least, but a driver, hasn’t slept enough, will put at risk his own life and the life of the other road-users: You shallst not kill!
What about the seller, being required to put new labels on spoiled meat? If he is Christian, he doesn’t want solely to be obedient to his boss, but he is also concerned about the health of the customers: Love your neighbour like yourself!
What about the farmer, whose monthly income is directly proportional to the quantity of pesticide, he uses? When he is a Christian, he will not be solely concerned about his income, but also about the people who will eat the bread, made out of his wheat. You shallst not kill!
Can a Christian pay dumping wages, and at the same time live in a palace in Beverly Hills?
The list could be continued without end. Finally, everybody is responsible before God, what he can do, and what he cannot do.
Now we have realized, grace can really be costly.
When Jesus lived on earth, he called by audible voice. Today, he calls by Holy Baptism. Baptism is administered by the Church. God is the actual baptist. Baptism comes from above, that means, from heaven. It is not very important, which Church baptizes as long as the Church acknowledges the sacramental character of baptism. Someone who has been baptized, can no longer claim, he is not able to believe, because by baptism he has experienced the most powerful revelation of the living God. After baptism there is solely obedience.
By the way, Grace is not only costly, because we have to leave things, but also because we are not allowed to be ashamed of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should try to keep in touch with other believers, no matter, what other people will say. Keeping in touch with other believers, we keep in touch with Jesus Christ, because he is present in his Church. Faith is not compatible with cowardice.