Thursday, November 18, 2004

True Discipleship

"It is the personal element that Christian discipleship needs to emphasize. 'The gift without the giver is bare.' The Christianity that attempts to suffer by proxy is not the Christianity of Christ. Each individual Christian business man, citizen, needs to follow in His steps along the path of personal sacrifice to Him. There is not a different path from that of Jesus' own times. It is the same path.

The call of this dying century and of the new one soon to be, is a call for a new discipleship, a new following of Jesus, more like the early, simple, apostolic Christianity, when the disciples left all and literally followed the Master. Nothing but a discipleship of this kind can face the destructive selfishness of the age with any hope of overcoming it. There is a great quantity of nominal Christianity today. There is need of more of the real kind. We need revival of the Christianity of Christ. We have, unconsciously, lazily, selfishly, formally grown into a discipleship that Jesus Himself would not acknowledge. He would say to many of us when we cry, 'Lord, Lord,' 'I never knew you!'

Are we ready to take up the cross? Is it possible for this church to sing with exact truth, 'Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee?' If we can sing that truly, then we may claim discipleship. But if our definition of being Christian is simply to enjoy the priveledges of worship, be generous at no expense to ourselves, have a good, easy time surrounded by pleasant friends and by comfortable things, live respectably and at the same time avoid the world's great stress of sin and trouble because it is too much pain to bear it --if that is our definition of Christianity, surely we are a long way from following the steps of Him who trod the way with groans and tears and sobs of anguish for a lost humanity; who sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, who cried out on the unreared cross, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'

Are we ready to make and live a new discipleship? Are we ready to reconsider our definition of a Christian? What is it to be a Christian? It is to imitate Jesus. It is to do as He would do. It is to walk in His steps."

--Written by Charles Sheldon in 1896.

2 comments:

shaun said...

I love that book. It's one of my top ten.

amy said...

Yes! Mine too. I especially love that quote. It haunts me to think he wrote that a century ago. I wonder what he would think of the state of the church today.