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Whatever It Takes

By Jared Barnett
In eLetter
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“Whatever it takes.” Barry emphasized this point at our 60th anniversary and it has captured my imagination about discipleship. The call of Jesus is a call to do whatever it takes as we learn to trust and follow him. This quality is what I love about the people of Irving Bible Church. It has captured our imagination and emboldened our resolve to see others meet Jesus.

It's a call that fills the story of Jesus in the gospels, church history, and today. For some, it was a call to leave their vocation of casting fishing nets to cast instead the seeds of the gospel. For others, it was a call to risk their social standing in the empire of Rome to kneel instead before King Jesus. For all of us, it's a call to radically reorient our lives to live the way of Jesus together. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, “When Christ calls a man (or woman), he bids him come and die.”

Discipleship is a fresh call to leave. We so badly want to stay, don’t we? We do all we can to stay in our place of security, our current moment of comfort, our perspective of self-protection. Yet, the challenging invitation of Jesus is to leave; leave behind our way for his way. Are you staying in your old way? If so, there’s a better way. Here’s how Jesus put it: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” It’s time to leave.

Discipleship is a joyful call to risk. We regularly miss moments to risk for Jesus, don’t we? So often this happens simply because we’re afraid; we lack courage. Yet, on the other side of risking for Jesus is experiencing joy with Jesus, no matter the outcome. Here’s Bonhoeffer again, “And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to him, for only he knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.” It’s time to risk.

Discipleship is a radical call to reorient. We are creatures of habit, aren’t we? Over time we’ve oriented our lives around certain habits; some we love and some we don’t. For many of us, we have the habit of independence. It shows up with simple thoughts: “I got this. I’m okay. I can handle it. I’m on my own.” This orientation leaves us all too often disoriented. With Jesus, the call is not to independence but to interdependence. If we’re going to do whatever it takes, we’re going to need one another. It’s time to reorient.

God is calling us, the people of Irving Bible Church, to become a multi-ethnic movement of missionary disciples, formed in the way of Jesus for the sake of the world. Let’s do whatever it takes.

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