There’s this really intriguing moment recorded in Luke 9, often titled â€˜The Cost of Discipleship.â€™ In it, Jesus has conversations with three people whom I suppose you could consider potential disciples. At first it all seems a bit cryptic, but with some deeper thought about it, there is so much richness to it! Care to dig in?
In the first conversation, Jesus and the disciples are journeying along the road, the usual, and someone says, â€œLord, I will follow you wherever you go.â€ Jesus responds with â€œFoxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.â€ Seems a little out there, but to me I think Jesus is basically saying, “Brother, I don’t think you really have a clue what you’re signing up for. It’s not as glamourous as it looks.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about these conversations in The Cost of Discipleship, and he reads this as a person showing up to follow Jesus without any respect for the call of Jesus. He doesnâ€™t wait for Jesus to call him to follow Him, and he lacks respect and understanding for what it means to follow Christ.
What does this mean for us? I think one lesson we can learn from this is that following Christ may not always look the way you think it should. You may desire to follow Him to teach English in China. He may desire you to be faithful with your work and life in Tennessee. Perhaps the call of God will be for you to go to China next year, but for now, you are called to be faithful where you are. This might mean being faithful to the Lord at a Pawn Shop when you want to be out on the field as a missionary. (For a season, thatâ€™s what it meant for me). Some of the people Jesus healed asked to follow him and He told them no. This didnâ€™t mean He didnâ€™t want them to follow Him in the sense of being believers and walking in faith, it simply meant their call was not to leave their village and travel around with Him like His disciples.
Thereâ€™s a good example of this just one chapter earlier in Luke 8. Jesus heals a demon-possessed man, and the man begs Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sends him away, saying, â€œReturn to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.â€ So this manâ€™s calling was not to follow Jesus in the physical sense — to go with Him to the places where He was teaching and healing, but he still had a calling from God — to go and tell people about what the Lord had done for him. For whoever listened, this guy would be preparing the way for the Gospel, and for the preaching of Jesusâ€™ death and resurrection, in the hearts of those with whom this man shared his testimony.
Back in Scotland, when we went out for fish and chips, instead of getting “take-out” we were going out for a “take-away.” And in all of this I see an incredible take-away. Many of us might say â€œIâ€™m not called to go and share my faith in Africa. Iâ€™m not called to be a pastor or a youth minister or an evangelist.â€ That may well be true. But that does NOT mean you do not have a calling from God. If you are in Christ, you are still called to tell people about the good things the Lord has done for you.
The Great Commission was not just a suggestion for the people who would step into full time vocational ministry. By Godâ€™s grace, you know Him now, and you are still on this earth, so you have work to do! And little doves donâ€™t need to fly out of the sky and deliver this calling to you on a scroll in order for you to know itâ€™s yours. If you are in Christ, He has good works prepared in advance for you to walk in. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. (Ephesians 2:10) You are called to preach the Gospel, make no mistake. And those neighbours of yours, and those coworkers of yours, at the Tax Office, in the Pawn Shop, or wherever you may find yourself, are people who may not hear the Good News unless you share it with them. In the wise words of Gwen Stefani, what you waiting what you waiting what you waiting what you waiting what you waiting… for?
You may have noticed, dear reader, I am coming to a close and weâ€™ve only covered the first of the three interactions. Fret not! This post is â€œto be continuedâ€ and weâ€™ll look at the next conversation very soon. Until then, start asking yourself, am I walking in those works Christ prepared in advance for me? And if not, hop to it! He could be back any minute!