Eugene Peterson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Nexus of Discipleship

I am a person who loves the Scriptures, especially in the original languages.  I love to research the text, and learn what is said in the tongues of the writers themselves.  Four feet of my bookshelves are filled with books on Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Coptic, Akkadian, Syriac, Latin, and German books.  God gave me this aptitude for language.

I know the church can use someone like me.  I have no doubts of that.  I remained concerned as to what my place is in the church, since I do not know if they can handle me as a pastor.  

Several years, I attended a small group meeting led by some very good friends of ours.  One night, our small group was praying for Kresha and I, and someone spoke a word over me.  They said, you are a “professor to the people.”  This confirmed something the Lord specifically spoke to me about, in my calling to flow as a teacher to the body of Christ.  I love the church.  My heart is for the church.  My heart for the church is to see it deepen so it can bear the weight of what the Lord will set on her foundations.  My favorite group of believers to deal with is that category labeled the “doctors of the church.”  When I hear someone mention the “doctors of the church,” I think of people who many years from now, the church will look back on and say, this man or woman saved us a lot of trouble by teaching us this or that dynamic by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

I want to be that kind of man, like Gary McGee, who finished strong, taught the church much about her history, treated we his charges with the irenic dynamic utterly missing from so many scholars, and fought the battle with cancer in such a way that make many of us who don’t have cancer wish we lived our healthy lives the way he lived a life in illness.  

I want to be that kind of man, like David Falls, who endured the trials of malignment and slander as did David to Saul, and, after 10 years was vindicated by none except God Himself.

If such a calling, as “professor to the people,” places me in the context of a pastorate for the rest of my life, I want to attack that calling with the vigor Isaiah prophesied concerning those who waited on the Lord, and help my flock know the word of truth.  I want that congregation to shine like stars and hold out the word of life, in the midst of a dark world.  

If such a calling, as “professor to the people” places me with the chance at a post in a university, raising up the next generation of scholars, then I want to study to show myself approved, that my students shine like stars in the dark halls of that university.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer tells us about the difference between cheap grace and costly grace, and the call to discipleship.  I want to walk in my calling living according to the principle of costly grace, and I want to know that at the end of my life I did what I was called to do, like Eugene Peterson.  Between these two men of God, we gain a full understanding of what is means to handle the weight of discipleship, by which we make disciples, and men and women of God, who are able to handle the weight of the integrity for which the world will curse us like Job’s wife.  Are you ready for that weight?  It’s inconvenient all the time, and requires us to live in a state of normal that the world will find quite irritating.

For I live only to see Your face
So shine on me…


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