The Cost of Nondiscipleship

There is a grave problem in the church today and it seemly slipped in under the cover of apathy. The problem is nondiscipleship. “The disciple” according to Dallas Willard, “is one who, intent upon becoming Christlike and so dwelling in his ‘faith and practice,’ systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end”(1).  The nondisciple then is one who desires to be gathered with the Church without accepting the cost of discipleship. He or she desires association without following Jesus, leaving the clutches of the world, or being set apart in such a way that it surely might be “obvious to every thoughtful person around us, as well as to ourselves”(2).

How did this happen? How can it be that the American church today is so full of nondisciples? “For at least several decades,” contends Willard, “the churches of the Western world have not made discipleship a condition of being a Christian. One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, and one may remain a Christian without any signs of progress toward or in discipleship” (3).

The expense of this great lethargy is severe. “Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it cost exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring (John 10:10)”(4). In light of such nondiscipline, the answer is clear—rearrange your affairs to follow Jesus with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength as his disciple, being formed into his likeness.

1. Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected readings for individuals and Groups (New York: NY, HarperCollins, 2005), 7.
2. Ibid., 16.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid., 16.

* This post comes from a paragraph of a paper written for the partial fulfillment of a DMin at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  It has been redacted and modified for this website.