Wednesday, August 10

Painful Discipleship

A few days ago I said this:

"I often find it painfully hard to call myself a Christian considering how far from the ideal of Jesus I am."

And Steve from Freethinking Faith responded to it here.

Perhaps I am alone with this feeling, but my relationship with Christ at the moment is filled with pain and anxiety. The more my understanding of Existential Christianity grows, the more I realize how nonChristian I really am. Reading through Bonhoeffer's 'cost of discipleship' was enough to send chills down my spine and make me realize my standing before God.

Steve characterized Christ's existential teachings as "normal", as opposed to "extraordinary". Maybe it is my inexperience talking but I am going to have to disagree. Out of all of Israel only eleven Jews followed Christ, and once the numbers of the church grew the more diluted and corrupted it became. Jesus himself characterized the path to a fulfilled existence as very narrow, implying that most people will go the other way (this is not to be confused with theories of salvation/redemption).

Kierkegaard, towards the end of his authorship, attacked through writing the state Church (because he believed it was the opposite of Christ's Christianity). Now he did this all the while saying that he does not himself claim to be a Christian. This is a man that spent his entire life contemplating a life with Christ, exhausted all of his mental and physical energy striving for the ideal, and yet never assumed that he deserved the title of a "Christian". My personal experience makes me sympathize with his position greatly, although I could never be as brave as him and admit to my own failings.

I hope that all of this is just a necessary precursor to experiencing God's "amazing grace" that I hear so much about. I would say that I am currently in the "seek first the kingdom of God" stage of relating to God, but will most likely remain there for the rest of my life. The psychological burden of the "seeker" can be enormous, and to be brutally honest I am still waiting for Jesus to fulfill his promise and give me rest.


Blogger BruceD said...

All I can say, my friend, is that my life changed so incredibly when I realized one thing... I accepted Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies of old, and allowed the knowledge of his outrageous love draw me to him. My own efforts ceased, and by waiting and trusting, he began to gently show me the way. But, the key is, my efforts had to cease, in order for his hopes to live in me. It's not an easy thing to do. We are taught all our lives to strive, and push in, and struggle. But, to wait and watch, and trust that he is doing his work in us... brings amazing accomplishment... it brings life itself. When I surrendered, he released his powerful love on me. I think sometimes we just need to let go of the reigns and get out of his way. If we can let go of our control, his life will manifest in us.

Allowing ourselves to be drawn to him is vastly different than being determined to push ourselves to him.

But, that's just the way I see it. You are free to do as you please.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

I appreciate you saying that bruce, and I understand where you are coming from. But this (what sounds like) effortless Christianity does not do it for me.

6:51 AM  
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