Sunday, March 8, 2009

The [Low, Low] Cost of Discipleship

Lord have mercy!

If there was ever a passage of Scripture that more preachers have done violence to through poor exegesis it has got to be Mark 8:31-38. (Okay... maybe aside from Matt 28:16-20... and, come to think of it also Matt 26:26-28... ...You know what? I'm just going to stop and move on with my original point.)

Mark 8:31-38. Never have I been subjected to more lukewarm, soft-peddled legalism in all my life! ARGH!

It is beyond me how anyone can hold a straight face as they preach this passage to support a purpose-driven theology of glory. God has a great plan for you, alright. You are called to die to self. You are called carry your cross to the place where you are made dead to the flesh and alive to Christ. Doesn't that sound like a ton of fun? Isn't that as cuddly as a bag full of kittens and rainbows? Doesn't that sound like the quick road to happiness and purpose? *smacks forehead*

So what's the answer? Well, certainly don't tell the people the truth about their calling. Don't nail them to the cross with the full weight of this passage and then bring them to life with total sufficiency of Christ's atonement for all sinners... heavens no! That's not pro-individual. That's not post-modern. That's not anthropocentric enough for us. We don't like the idea of us being total failures and Christ being a total savior. We don't want to be helpless like infants. We don't want a savior. We want an enabler... a divine life coach.

I have an idea: let's just invent our own exegetical damage control and soften the blow of Christ's words for the modern ear. Let's deprive our people of the benifit of the rebuke that Peter was given and tell them it will be okay if they just keep trying really really hard. Let's encourage them to keep deceiving themselves into thinking that every minor deviation from their original life plan is actually the hidden hand of God. Better yet, let's point them to those moments rather than to their baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the confession of sins. Let's put a veil on over Moses' face and pretend that we've got this "Christian" thing nailed down solid. *smacks forehead again*

Lord, when will You free us of this mediocre spirituality that is masquerading as deep, Biblical truth? When will You reject the message of these false teachers and return the wayward church to the sound doctrine of Christ crucified for the souls of men? How long must we languish, O Lord? How long?

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