What is the call to “radical Christian discipleship” all about?

– Tom Sine –

Last week I talked about roasting and honoring Ron Sider. This week I want to explain one of the major reasons so many of us honor Ron….he introduced us to the concept of “radical Christian discipleship.” He called followers of Jesus to Rich Christians in an Age of Hungera more radical approach to whole life discipleship and stewardship…”Living More Simply…that others might simply live.” I was deeply convicted by that book.

I can still remember taking all but one of my six suits and sports suits to the Salvation Army after reading Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger. Several weeks after I made that donation I had a speaking event and I went to put on my one remaining sports suit. Only to discover the pants were missing. Somehow I had inadvertently put those slacks in with the rest of my donation.

I immediately called the head of the donation division of the Salvation Army. He welcomed me to scour their six stores, find my missing slacks and buy them back. In spite of my mishap I am convinced that Ron’s call to a more radical whole life faith is clearly a biblical call that much of today’s church still needs to hear today.

In fact, I will go further I will suggest in this series of posts that many Christians today may have settled for a compartmentalized discipleship that doesn’t take scripture seriously and is having little impact in our lives or the lives of our neighbors. I don’t expect everyone to agree and I am looking for some serious push back.

Here we go!

Virtually every book, article or blog post I have read on discipleship claims to take scripture seriously. These materials often do use scripture in helpful ways in providing guidance in prayer, study and daily disciplines. They always use scripture convincingly in discussing changing our spiritual, relational and moral values.

But I have read virtually nothing in these resources about also bringing scripture to bear on our cultural values… particularly our notions of good life and better future.

  • Don’t we seem to be content to allow our class, income and neighborhoods to define our notions of what constitutes the good life?
  • Don’t our notions of good life largely define how we steward our time and resources?
  • Don’t culturally shaped notions of good life even define what we raise our young for?

If we did embrace a radical whole life kind of discipleship wouldn’t we bring scripture to bear on not only defining our spiritual and moral values but our cultural values as well?

For example, doesn’t Jesus remind us that the good life of God will never be found in seeking life but in losing our lives in service to God and others?

In other words:

  • Is it possible that we ignore in the teachings of Jesus and the servanthood model of life Jesus Christ embodied a new definition of the good life of God?
  • Is it possible that becoming a disciple of this Jesus we are suppose to discover a new reason for being?
  • Is it possible that good life that Jesus embodied is found in making a difference in the lives of others instead of the self-interested pursuit of more that is celebrated not only in the US but the entire global consumer culture?

Write me today. What is your response?