The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.   

-Herbert Agar

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a martyr, was executed by hanging at the young age of thirty-nine for his opposition to the terrible mass-murderer Adolf Hitler and his regime (it is reported that Bonhoeffer was stripped naked  for the occasion and strung up on a  meat hook by piano wire—the wretched process takes about thirty minutes to kill someone).  A German pastor and theologian, Bonhoeffer knew a thing or two about following Jesus and in the end it cost him his very life.  His book The Cost of Discipleship is a modern day classic.  

Bonhoeffer wrote:

When the Bible speaks of ‘following Jesus’, it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind from all man-made dogma, from every burden and oppression, from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience. If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ. But does this mean that we can ignore the seriousness of His command? Far from it! We can only achieve perfect liberty and enjoy fellowship with Jesus when His command, His call to absolute discipleship, is appreciated in its entirety. Only the man who follows the command of Jesus without reserve, and submits unresistingly to His yoke, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard—unutterably hard—for those who try to resist it.

The last several years have meant time and occasions for some serious reflection for me personally.  And while I haven’t completed my project yet—I have made some re-discoveries in terms of just what it means to follow Jesus.  Over the last twenty years in particular I have spoken with several professing Christians and a good number have given me the impression that they somehow believe they can have Jesus as someone of peripheral significance—sort of like a mistress if you will.  Unfortunately, for any of us who have the idea that we can be part time Jesus-followers, God doesn’t negotiate the terms when it comes to following his Son. 

 Then another said, ‘I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.’

Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.’    (Luke 9:61-62, The Message Bible) 

It’s not enough to have Jesus in the passenger seat of our car, and besides—Jesus drives the car or he walks. 

 

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