The Vineyard – Choosing and Following
You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you.
I have set you apart for the work of bringing in fruit. Your fruit should last.
Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee.
He saw Simon and his brother Andrew putting a net into the sea. They were fishermen.
Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!”
At once they left their nets and followed Him.
“Whoever serves me must follow me.
My servants must be with me everywhere I am.
My Father will give honor to anyone who serves me.”
“You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you.” In theological circles this is called “the Doctrine of Election.” It has been hotly debated since the Reformation. However, because it’s beyond my “pay grade” I shall only focus on the words above.
Mark this! The first words Jesus spoke to his disciples were “Follow me!” Jesus’ “choosing“ meant “following“, two sides of the same coin. The singular purpose of the coin is: “I will make you fish for men!” and “I have set you apart for the work of bringing in fruit.” Furthermore, “Whoever serves me must follow me.” Note the MUST! One can’t serve Jesus without following. To use Jack Nicholson’s noted words in A Few Good Men, I think this is “Crystal Clear”!
This is critical for the Kingdom in the western world so I shall be repetitious. Given the primary action of the church today, one would have guessed that Jesus said something like this. The “choosing” is for the sake of “coming.” And the primary purpose is worship. Interestingly, Jesus never said to worship him. People indeed did worship him (Matthew 14:32-33); nonetheless, he never gave that as a primary command! What he did say is this: “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him.” (John 4:23-24) Is this picking at gnats? Observe these words: “You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock I will BUILD my church.” (Matthew 16:18) Jesus was about gathering living stones for his building project. “You are to be as living stones in the building God is making.“ (1 Peter 2:5) Note the similarity between what Jesus said to Peter and what Peter later said to the church! Obviously, Peter never forgot to “make the main thing the main thing!”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer matured in Hitler’s Germany. He was a premier pastor/theologian. He was a Lutheran and a pacifist. As Hitler advanced Bonhoeffer saw that he was like a drug, selling a little addiction at a time. In light of the fact that the Lutheran Church swallowed Hitler’s lure “hook, line and sinker”, Bonhoeffer was painfully forced to evaluate his mother church. Mind you, Bonhoeffer was a committed churchman of highest repute.
However, above all he was committed to the scriptures. And so, reading the Gospels afresh, he was confronted by the stark difference between “following Jesus” and being a “coming to church” member. You may think this trite; however, I assure for Bonhoeffer it was a matter of life and death. He participated in the failed assassination attempt of Hitler (see the movie Valkyrie). For his participation he was hanged in 1945 at Flossenburg, only days before the American liberation of the POW camp.
The Cost of Discipleship was Bonhoeffer’s response amidst this tumultuous time. This is not the reflection of a theologian, sitting in the hallowed walls of a seminary. Quite the contrary, Bonhoeffer was knee deep in the quest for freedom from the monster. Most of all, it was a call to the Lutheran Church to follow Jesus rather than Hitler. This is what he wrote. “Grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” On the other hand, “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship!” In other words, Bonhoeffer saw that, in the midst of the fray, what is most important is “following Jesus” rather than merely “going to church“!
You may think this superficially simplistic! I guarantee: neither for Jesus nor Bonhoeffer was that the case!