In Discipleship by Bonhoeffer, the focus is on obedience. Jesus calls… respond.
We hear the call of Jesus and we want him to get in touch with our legal department.
One classic parable on the call to obedience and the human desire to negotiate is the parable of the rich young ruler. He wants to follow Jesus, but not exactly follow Jesus.
(It reminds me of a great comic strip once where a lady was saying, “Well, I haven’t actually died to sin, but I did feel faint once.”)
Jesus lets the man know keeping the commandments, obedience, was essential. The guy is feeling pretty good, because he’s done what he can to follow the Law. But, then, the lawyer in him rose up.
“Which ones?” (Lord, could you specifically delineate in this addendum to the contract precisely which ones will help keep me on the road to heaven? Then, could you initial here… here… and here…)
Bonhoeffer takes off on the question of “Which ones?”
Satan himself is hiding in that question. This was the only possible way out for someone who felt himself trapped. Of course the young man knew the commandments, but who should know which commandment is meant just for him, just for right then, out of the full number of commandments?
Here is our problem: We don’t want to follow Jesus. Not really. We want to follow our image of Jesus.
Following Jesus is just about, well, following him. He commands or directs, we get after it. We don’t follow when we’re good and ready.
We allow negotiations to begin and then double-minded thinking takes over. That is not the place of discipleship.