The Visible Disciple
“…the Body of Christ can only be a visible Body, or else it is not a Body at all.”-Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Cost of Discipleship
Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship is an essential read for any individual seeking to understand their role as a follower of Christ. Discipleship is rough. It is not something to take lightly. Andy Stanley has recently had a sermon series called Christian that has challenged people to rethink the term “Christian” that we like to place on ourselves. He says “Being a Christian has no definition; therefore we can do whatever we want with it. Christ never called His followers Christians, in fact that was a harsh term created to put His followers down. Christ only referred to His followers as disciples.” This is important for people to recognize as they hold on to the title of Christian.
I am not going to say it’s wrong for us to accept that term as our descriptor. In fact, I think we should embrace it. However, if we do embrace it we need to recognize the weight it holds. Christians are meant to be disciples. We are to follow Christ wholly and fully in our walk. Discipleship is much more than accepting Christ and signing a membership card, but seriously digging in to the Word and doing what Christ did.
Bonhoeffer’s quote above is great for the “Body of Christ”, but for it to truly be beneficial disciples must apply it to their lives. True disciples will be visible to the world, but most importantly should be visible to their community. A community full of disciples will see significant change due to their activity of service, love, encouragement, and humility. When the Disciples of Christ step out in faith and serve the way their leader served then, and only then will we see a society change for the good. This is the cry of Christ’s Spirit in the heart of every believer. His heart’s desire is to see the desire of His disciple’s heart shaped to His and for their service to match the service of God.
Join in the Discussion (if you want…no pressure): If we compare discipleship to the “Body” mentioned by Bonhoeffer, then the question is: if a disciple of Christ is not visible are they a disciple at all? If we claim to be a disciple of Christ, is it possible for us to remain secluded from society or culture or our community? If not, why? If so, how do you reconcile that with how Christ lived?