Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Christian Discipleship

I want to write now about the tangled issue of Christian discipleship and the relation between ourselves as sinners and the God of grace.

Ordinarily, I find that a bigger issue in my discipleship is not so much the specific, individual sins that I continue to commit, but rather my unwillingness to believe that Christ's grace is sufficient even for me, a sinner.  That is, the coldness in my heart towards Christ that comes when I choose not to approach him because I've sinned is a bigger issue than the sin which was the occasion for the coldness.  The common complaint of Romans 6: 1 ('What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?') is that individuals might misinterpret God's grace to mean that they now have total freedom to do whatever they choose.  I understand this complaint, but it doesn't ring true in me, I feel.  As much as I love to sin, I don't actually want to, and would prefer to see myself before Christ as sinless.  Thus, when I sin my tendency is to avoid him, which is a fundamental lack of trust in his love, in his grace, in his forgiveness, and in his person.  This is the bigger issue, and the very one for which the world stands condemned by Christ.  

The task of Christian discipleship, unless I am very much mistaken, is then not so much to stop individual acts of sinning (though this comes with the caveat that of course the Christian should fight against sin in themselves), but is rather a disciplining of themselves to accept the truth of God's grace; that he invites us as sinners, that his promise is to us as sinners, and that it is as sinners that he died for us on the cross.  And this is a much harder pill to swallow because it involves acknowledging one's shame before him and accepting the grace which is so alien to us.  This does not mean that there is a tacit approval of sin that so many (myself included) worry about; but is rather an acknowledgement that worse than any specific sin that you can name is the very real possibility of not accepting or believing Christ when he calls us as sinners to come to him.

1 comment:

  1. "Bulls-eye with that hammer and nail", for want of a better mixed metaphor! "Lack of trust" i.e. unbelief is the reason for cosmic condemnation. Somewhere in John's gospel Jesus is asked, "What is the work of God?" and he replies, "The work of God is to believe in the one he has sent." So on the level of discipleship/repentance, it is precisely belief in Jesus that we all find so so hard.

    I often hear the great divine sigh of exasperation and a contextualized version of "Bring the boy to me" (Mk 9:17-29) when I too am weighed and found wanting - but that's also the point - Jesus then goes on and cleans up the life/house/heart for us/me/you. Sometimes it happens when I can't even muster a mustard seed.

    Good post David. Do more of them like that and often.