It is laid upon every Christian. The first suffering of Christ we must experience is the call sundering our ties to this world. This is the death of the old human being in the encounter with Jesus Christ. Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus' death, and puts his or her own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death. Whether with the first disciples we leave home and occupation in order to follow him, or whether with Luther we leave the monastery to enter a secular profession, in either case, the one death awaits us, namely, death in Jesus Christ, the dying away of our old form of being human in Jesus' call.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Discipleship
I'm teaching on the season of Lent this weekend. It's a challenging topic to face at my home church. We're a group from many different backgrounds. As I was talking with some friends recently, we realized that most of our people are either from extreme Protestantism (we approach Lent-ish practice with skepticism) or former Catholic (we have had enough Lent already, thanks!) backgrounds. No way to play this one down the middle.
I've found so much healing and peace in Lent. I've experienced a lot of faith growth in seasons past. That said, I never look forward to it. At least not in the way I look forward to summer or the latest Justin Timberlake album. It's hard. It's not fun. I'm going to be talking some about the absolute unsellability of Lent (and really Christianity). If we had to develop a true sub-slogan for Lent (and Christianity), it would be COME AND DIE. Obviously, this is not the kind of slogan that is likely to increase market share...and here I go, getting all mad about the state of suburban faith.
Back to the Bonhoeffer quote. Why is it that deepening of faith is so often tied to deep suffering? If we are inviting people to suffer as Christ suffered, I feel like we need to have lived the answer to this question in some way.