Bonhoeffer had a way of getting to the point of the matter, don’t you agree? Think back to Jesus’ first encounters as He called His disciples. They were ordinary men. Fishermen and tax collectors. But when they followed, everything changed.
Even a casual reading of the Gospels will reveal a group of men who were being transformed as Jesus built into their lives. They were certainly not perfect and they had not reached the pinnacle of spirituality, but they were growing because they wanted to learn how to live a better life.
The same is true for us. We were not called to simply make a decision for Christ. Jesus’ Great Commission didn’t call us to say a sinner’s prayer, or walk an aisle, or sign a card. No, we are called to be disciples who are in the game of life.
And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.Ephesians 4: 23-29
Disciples are teachable. Disciples follow. Disciples imitate. Disciples are changed from the inside out as we “put off” our old selves and are “renewed in the spirit of our minds” as we “put on the new self”.
- We don’t allow anger to control us so that bitterness is avoided.
- We don’t steal, but we do honest work.
- We put off conversations that purpose only to tear down and instead speak words of encouragement and teaching to build others up in their faith.
- We put off bitterness and slander and put on kindness and forgiveness.
Are we doing all things perfectly? Nope, but don’t be discouraged. Just as Jesus was patient with the progress of the disciples, He is patient with us.
The real question is am I growing in honesty? Am I satisfied with my rationalized anger? And am I telling the truth in a more loving way?
Today is a new day to follow, so how will I follow Him more closely on this day? Would He say that I am teachable? Will I make spiritual growth a priority today? Not tomorrow or next week or even later today – how will I respond to His call to discipleship this moment?