Thursday, September 06, 2007

Following After Jesus

Sometimes other languages just say it better. When the outstanding 20th century theologian and Christian witness, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote his famous book that we translate “The Cost of Discipleship,” he employed one simple word Nachfolge, which simply means “following after.” In other words, the German language title—and Bonhoeffer’s subsequent words—helped me to see that being a disciple is simply hearing Jesus’s voice and following after him. Following after Jesus… I’ve been pondering those unusual scenes in the Gospels—like Matthew 4—where the Simon and Andrew drop their fishing nets and hear Jesus call them to a new way. “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” So often the puzzle to me has been this: Why did it happen so quickly, and how could they possibly have made that kind of decision so abruptly? Though I suspect the character of Jesus had a lot to do with it, I now think I may be missing the central affirmation: They decided to follow after Jesus. That’s what it means to hear his call and to be his disciple. I’m not sure things have really changed much...

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