Print Version January 22nd, 2002
Isn’t there something deliciously, riskily attractive about the Jesus of the gospel today? When I was a callow youth studying chemistry I had a teacher who was always saying ‘well you’ll have learned X but the truth is …’ and then he’d go on to debunk whatever X was and show you how, impossible as it might seem, Y was the case. I lapped it up. Here was a guy who was breaking all the rules and getting paid for it. And somehow if I listened carefully enough, attended all the lectures, not only would I know that Y was better than X but maybe I too could be similarly, quirkily, rule-breakingly, ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ or … you add the adjective of the moment. And maybe, if I sat in the front row and smiled knowingly in all the right places and nodded sagely at his insights, well, maybe he might notice me and share and extra portion of his wisdom, might make me a disciple: a delicious and risky thought. Delicious … but risky—because I knew it would be hard work being so quirky, so insightful, so damned clever.
Now you are all probably thinking ‘loser’ – so let me say (a) you are right and (b) maybe the craving to be a disciple isn’t so foreign to you either if you find the right example.
And (c) discipleship in the kingdom of God isn’t like that at all. First the invitation comes from Jesus. Second it doesn’t come on merit—or if it does it is upside-down. I imagine us standing there like Eliab—“I’m big and strong—choose me”—or Abinadab—“I have the words—choose me”—or Shammah—“I am faithful—choose me”. The question is not whether we have what it takes to be chosen—the right assets—but whether we have all the right lacks, whether enough is missing, whether our weakness makes us vulnerable enough for so vulnerable a Master.