Discipleship – No Thanks!
Romantic notions of discipleship proliferate but the truth of it, the truth about it, is much less convenient – much less. Did I say, ‘much less?’ Actually it is worse than a mere inconvenience. Inconvenience would be a relief, a stroll in the park, happy days indeed.
Let me say it as plainly as I can. You should avoid at all costs allowing anyone to disciple you – it hurts. And whatever you do don’t pray for, provoke, imagine or precipitate a process of discipleship that resembles in any hue the sort Jesus demanded of the twelve. It is a wonder they lasted at all, and can you imagine the damage their tender souls incurred as he spoke to them in no uncertain and confronting terms. No wonder Peter went back to his fishing. Paul was fortunate enough to have missed this process; mind you his initial encounter was hardly life affirming and encouraging and certainly didn’t take into account that he was only a confused but, deep down, really nice person.
If you’re not prepared to feel like a miscreant or a failure, or be washed by a warm flush of embarrassment then you aren’t constituted for even the mildest version of this brutal act of transformation. Did I say ‘transformation’ because that is the alleged goal of this medieval form of soul torture? It is much easier and preferable to plod along, stumbling and bumbling your way through life, blissfully oblivious to your actual effect on others.
And what in the world was Solomon prattling on about when he penned such mystifying maxims as: “If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you.” And, “Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, beatings purge the inmost being.” And what of this adage, “A rebuke impresses a man of discernment, more than a hundred lashes a fool.” And what of this difficult and dark saying, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Kisses sound good to me – what’s the problem?
I’d hoped that discipleship was about my preferences, my natural agilities and gifts. But apparently not; it is, they say, about our character and especially it in its natural messed up state. It is about those things I can’t see – looking out from these eyes. It is about things I consider normal, but apparently not God. It is about things that I don’t wish to address nor frankly see the necessity of addressing but apparently God does. It is about things that irk others but that I barely notice much less care about. And I get this sneaking and uncomfortable suspicion that the deeper the issue the stronger the reproof required to dislodge it. “Get behind me Satan.” – That sort of thing.
It seems, and I know that it appears I am making a case for discipleship but I am only commenting – not endorsing, Jesus did his discipleship by example primarily. You had to be around him to see it and therefore get it. But it appears he had another method. He would speak direct to attitudes and misconceptions. The disciples, poor souls, heard direct and strong. He would rebuke them in front of each other. He would call a ‘devil’ a devil and worldliness for what it was. No subtle amelioration here. Glad I wasn’t there. Miracles are one thing – public rebukes another.
Discipleship – no thanks!