“So Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves.”John 6:53 CSB
Have you ever wondered why Christians get so much flack? It’s not hard to simply look around us and see cultural and social hostility mounting from every angle. This isn’t another blog fixed on bemoaning the horrors of culture, but I bring it up to make this point: one of the many reasons that causes much needless confusion and contention is the lack of discipleship in the life of many professing Christians. This was true even in Jesus’ day.
Before declaring these abrasive words to a hungry crowd for families and His own students, He had miraculously fed the thousands of them with five loaves of bread and two meager fish just the day before. They came back for more, not just more food but I believe seeking more self-serving understanding on what the miracle-maker could do for them. Then He turns to them and gives them what appears to be an altar call to cannibalism! (We know it is not actually, but Jesus doesn’t hesitate to shock them nonetheless).
These are not easy teachings of Christ. Not because they lack detail or clarity, maybe they simply don’t make sense to you, they didn’t to me at first either, but that’s not really what makes it challenging either. It is so challenging because the calling to discipleship, (which simply means to follow a teacher, in this context to follow Christ), is an offensive calling. Following Jesus is invasive into every aspect of a disciple’s life, and it is certainly far from easy to fulfill. In fact, I’d argue that it is actually impossible apart from the supernatural working of the Spirit in our lives.
We live in a world where we have been conditioned that following someone is easy and convenient. You can follow your favorite influencer on social media, you can even subscribe to a blogger on WordPress or a vlogger on YouTube with a click of a button, and all you have to do is receive updates and notifications! Most of the time, you don’t even have to respond and read/watch the content to be a faithful follower. Maybe you follow folks on socials like Facebook, or you follow trending topics on Twitter.
Truth be told, we are thoroughly disconnected from a discipline of truly following someone as a disciple would follow their Rabbi. The first century idea of discipleship, as used in this context, conveyed the idea that disciples followed their Rabbi so closely that they would catch the dirt in their faces from his footsteps. Before we get tempted to put this into a Christian sub-category all on its own, note that this was and still is normative Christianity.
Consider Your Calling
The key is that we need to remember there are not two categories in the New Testament for Christians and super-Christians called disciples. Christians are to be faithful disciples who are in turn worth following after, because we are followers of Jesus Christ.
My goal now is to get back to writing more regularly about the theological framework and the practical outworking of how to just simply be a disciple. This is not super-Christianity, it is meant to be normal Christianity.
If the world looked at Christians and saw the dirt in our faces from following Christ’s tracks, they might only hate us for our faithfulness instead of for our own pervasive hypocrisy.
May we be considered worthy of our calling to follow Christ.