Rev. Alice Fowler of Trinity UMC in Bloomfield began her sermon for Sunday morning worship by addressing what it takes to inhabit discipleship, and acknowledging that it isn’t easy.
“Inhabiting discipleship is like inhabiting Hawaii – it’s too costly to live there, so we just bask in the glow, pretend it’s home for a week, and then we go back home to misery, or Missouri, however you say it,” she said.
The question of what it takes to inhabit discipleship has a clear answer, given by Jesus in Luke chapter 9, verses 23 – 27. Fowler then asked people to consider the cost of discipleship. For the average worship attender, they are only giving up a couple of hours a week on Sunday morning. But to truly inhabit discipleship, there will be lifestyle changes, and other costs. “It’s not a one-time step. We must actually follow through with a habit,” Fowler said. “Daily, we must give up ourselves. In order to inhabit discipleship, discipleship has to be habitual.”
Fowler said there has been much written on habits people should develop, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Three Simple Rules. Jesus’s own directive was simple – if you want to be a follower, you must turn from your selfish ways.
“Knowing you shouldn’t be selfish is one thing; turning from selfness is harder,” she said.
“Nature is survival of the fittest.” Friending someone on Facebook and clicking like on their posts is easy, but does little. Too many people follow Jesus like they follow someone on Twitter; they read short bits of what he says, and might favorite or retweet, something, but this isn’t really following.
“When Jesus said, ‘Take up your cross,’ he wasn’t asking his disciples to be seen as self-sacrificing, but to actually die,” she said. “No great advance has been made for the Kingdom of God by people who are unwilling to lay down their lives.”
Christ has many admirers and few followers, Fowler said, noting that actual following requires leaving the safety of our living room. She asked people to consider their limit – how far they would actually go for Jesus.
“The church needs people who will go to any length for the vast, unmeasured, boundless love of God,” she said. “We are the ones called to show the world the Jesus way. Who will answer the call? Who is willing to really inhabit Discipleship?”