Lent Devotions: The cost of non-discipleship

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  

By Rev. Dr. Rick Snyder

Romans 10:8b-13         

I can still remember being confirmed in ninth grade, wearing itchy wool pants and a tight-collared white shirt and tie. We stood in front of the large congregation and confessed the familiar words,”Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” Did I have any clue as to what these words about the Lordship of Jesus Christ meant?

I hadn’t yet heard of Dietrich Bonheoffer who lives out what he writes in The Cost of Discipleship: “When Christ calls us, he bids us to come and die.” I hadn’t yet read what Paul will write later in this epistle: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good . . . do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all . . . live peaceably with all.” I hadn’t yet met an Egyptian seminarian, who receives Christ, but in so doing loses his wife and children.           

In today’s text, the Apostle Paul tells the church at Rome, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord!” Public confession is important because it edifies the church and resists an individualistic notion of faith. Paul continues, “and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.” Our faith is not a vague spirituality or sentiment, like the satisfaction of hitting a perfect nine-iron on a balmy spring day. Our faith is rooted in a person, in the risen Christ.

Then Paul concludes, “you will be saved.” Saved from what? — from the powers of sin, evil and death! But perhaps more importantly, we ask: Saved for what? — for lives of obedience, service, love, peacemaking, and doing justice!

Dallas Willard adds an emendation to Bonheoffer’s conviction of the lordship of Jesus, the cost of discipleship. He reminds us that there is a cost to non-discipleship: “Non-discipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring. (John 10:10).”

And here is the connection with our Lenten theme of freedom. Making Jesus `Lord’ frees us to become whom God designed us to be — able stewards of God’s grace. Thanks be to God!

Rev. Dr. Rick Snyder is a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and a current board of trustee at the seminary.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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