Thursday, October 18, 2012

Are you able to drink the cup that I drink

This Sunday’s gospel (Mark 10:35-45) is a reminder that following Jesus is no picnic. It makes clear that sharing in his baptism and communing with him in the drinking of his cup implicates us in his self-emptying, cross-bearing mission.

That means dying to our own pride and pretensions. It means acknowledging our own infirmities and diseases, transgressions and iniquities (Isaiah 53); and allowing his spirit to work a (sometimes severe) regimen of healing and forgiveness in us.

It means submissive self-mastery over our own desires. It means letting go of our presumed prerogatives to embrace the way of humility and servanthood. It means responding to his call to live a defenseless life of mercy that exposes us to the infirmities, disease, and iniquities of others that we might be his instruments of healing and reconciliation on the earth.

To imagine that we can avoid the way of the cross and go directly to the glory and honor of a place at his right or left is presumptuous. No, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer asserted in Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

To be sure, we are called to die that we might live. But, let’s not forget which comes first.

This passage is also a reminder that drinking the cup of Jesus is a perilous thing that implicates us in a community, commits us to a mission, and places us under judgement. Communion with Jesus and his body, the Church, is not only about affirmation and inclusion. To invite those who have not been initiated into a share in his baptism to drink his cup with all that entails is presumptuous and irresponsible. It is cheap grace. Cheap inclusion. Cheap hospitality.

More from Bonhoeffer on cheap grace vs costly grace:

Cheap Grace
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly Grace
Such grace is costly because it call us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost the life of his Son: "ye were brought with a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.


Michael Gillum said...

There is little more to say except that this post is absolutely fantastic and absolutely true.

Matt Gunter said...

Thanks, Michael.