Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Insanity of Partial Discipleship

Thomas Merton quotes the Russian Christian mystic Vladimir Soloviev as saying: “The importance of a truth lies, of course, not in the truth itself, but within us, in our inconsistency. By not carrying out a truth to the end, we limit it—and any limitation of a truth provides an expanse for falsehood. It is madness not to believe in God; it is the greater madness to believe in Him only in part.” (Merton, A Year with Thomas Merton, Kindle Locations 4178-4181)

In the biblical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) we see Jesus looking for followers, for "disciples." From Jesus' POV a follower is, by definition and in essence, "all in." Total commitment. 100%. For a real disciple of Jesus, He is their "Lord." A Jesus-follower submits to the lordship of Jesus. Using Old Testament imagery, He is their "shepherd." His sheep hear his voice and follow.

This idea of following is an "either-or," an all-or-nothing. One either follows, or does not. This is a disjunctive situation: Either X follows Jesus, or X does not follow Jesus.

So, "partial discipleship," "partial following" with Jesus as one's occasional "lord," is logical madness. Real Jesus-followers are characterized, not by their own perfection, but by their "all-in-ness."