More Than Rice Chex

Some things in life are immune to personal preference. You may opt for oatmeal over Rice Chex, prefer blueberries to apples, or select rhubarb pie instead of mincemeat, and no one, including you will suffer for your choices. Other matters matter a great deal more. You really don’t have a say in whether or not your heart pumps blood on autopilot throughout your limbs, or if touching a hot stove top will burn and blister your skin. Local ordinance demands that there be negative consequences for ignoring a burn ban and setting fire to the expanding mountain of brush behind my house. I might prefer to speak on my cell phone in a school zone, but that was never a good idea and no longer an option in this country.

The same is true with both the horizontal and vertical aspects of discipleship. Grace is never neutral. Nothing needs to change to experience God’s grace, but once we do everything must radically change, more out of divine necessity than individual choice. Grace doesn’t demand that we clean up our act, it mandates a funeral pyre–death to self and all that accompanies our egocentric lifestyle. Surrender isn’t surrender if I ferret away something in reserve. “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call” (Bonhoeffer, “The Cost of Discipleship”).

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV)

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