We talked about the plan, and then we talked about the cost. Now I want to talk about the realities of discipleship in today’s world. It’s What You’ve Been Searching For, I’m Joel Fieri. Stay tuned.
In thinking about how to land the plane on this series of discipleship if you were with us last week, you know that we talked about the cost of discipleship, and I went back to Mere Christianity and C.S. Lewis, which is where I’m going today again. Still got the copy of the old copy. I wanted to talk about how what he says, how he concludes his thoughts on what it means to follow Christ in a basic sense, in a Mere Christianity sense, with what Jesus told His disciples when He sent them out into the world, what should be our attitude towards the world, especially in today’s world, which is lining up some pretty scary and intentional things against Christianity.
So as for Mere Christianity, for Lewis, at the end of the book in the last chapter, he wraps up, like we were talking last week, compares the growth in discipleship, the growth of a Christian to be more like Christ to evolution. It’s different from the world and the scientific expectation or understanding of evolution. Our evolution has a goal. It has a target that we can see. It’s not a random happening. Not only that, He’s the one causing the evolution, so it’s different from the world’s understanding. This is what he said, and this is what had jumped out at me when I was reading this and finishing the book.
“Compared with the development of man on this planet, the diffusion of Christianity over the human race seems to go like a flash of lightning for 2000 years is almost nothing in the history of the universe. Never forget that we are still the early Christians. The present, wicked and wasteful divisions between us are, let us hope, a disease of infancy. We are still teething. The outer world, no doubt, thinks just the opposite. It thinks we are dying of old age. But it has thought that before. Again and again, it has thought Christianity was dying, dying by persecutions from without or corruptions from within, by the rise of Islam, the rise of the physical sciences, the rise of the great anti-Christian revolutionary movements.”
“But every time the world has been disappointed. The first disappointment was the crucifixion. The man came to life again. In a sense, and I quite realize how frightfully unfair it must seem to them, that has been happening ever since. They keep on killing the thing He started. And each time, just as they are patting down the earth on its grave, they suddenly hear that it is still alive and has even broken out in some new place. No wonder they hate us.”
Okay. So that’s Lewis’ conclusion on how what we expect or what Jesus expects of us, how we grow, how we evolve is different from what the world understands. And the key is here. It’s different from what the world understands or even accepts.
While I was reading this, as I told you before, there was kind of a coincidence of happenings when I was reading my devotions a couple of weeks ago that put this into focus for me. I was reading through Matthew, and I came to Matthew 10, where Jesus has concluded the sermon on the Mount, talking about the kingdom of heaven and all the different ways that we should treat each other and seek God and what the kingdom of heaven is like. He then sends His disciples out to be His representatives. The first time He sends them out, he gives them power to heal the sick, cast out demons, all these things.
But He tells them something when He sends them out that I think is key. It jumped out at me, and I want to share it with you. I’m reading from Matthew 10, starting in Verse 16. He says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Later on in Verse 22, He talks about “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Then Verse 26, He goes on. He says, “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight. What is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Then He talks about our value. “Are we not so valuable that God will protect us and God will save us?”
Why would Jesus tell His disciples to be shrewd like snakes and to be on guard, while at the same time, maintaining their innocence in the face of all this persecution? He promises them this persecution is going to happen to them so why would He tell them to be on guard?
It seems to me He’s telling them that because He wants them to be on guard against falling into the trap of believing what people say about them and compromising to avoid this persecution, somehow believing the world’s hatred towards them because of Him is somehow justified, or something that they should modify their beliefs to pacify.
It goes back to what C.S. Lewis was saying, “The world has always thought we’re passe. The world has always thought Christianity didn’t fit. It was too old. It was past its prime. It’s past its time.” But as Lewis says if we have an eternal perspective, we know that we’re still in our infancy. We’re still having teething pains because we have that eternal perspective, the world doesn’t. I think that’s what Jesus is saying here. Be on your guard. Don’t be naive.
One of the things that really troubles me in my heart is I see so many naive Christians that think if they just modify their stances on this issue or that issue, or they don’t say that this or they don’t preach that, that they’re somehow more loving, what they see as loving, towards people that they should be more truth-telling to. That somehow we can fit a square peg of Christianity into the round hole of whatever moral revolution of the day happens to be.
In our discipleship when we disciple people and, again, discipleship is something that we do together as a body, we do for one another. It’s not just us in Jesus. The key to discipleship, the master’s plan is that we come along, we disciple each other, we hold each other accountable, we’re one body of believers. We need to be like-minded and shrewd and on our guard, and we need to hold each other accountable to not falling for the pressure and giving into the pressure from society. In our discipleship we need to be collectively shrewd as snakes, innocent as doves and on our guard.
That concludes our journey through discipleship that you, the Christian Podcast listener, have been searching for. Stay tuned next week, and we’ll have a new topic, and start a new journey. Thanks for listening.