Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously wrote of the cost of discipleship. He meant that following Jesus requires intention: that if God has given us the rich gift of grace, forgiveness, mercy, and new life, we have to use them, and not simply continue in our old, un-giving ways.
We preach that a lot as a church, but there’s a danger in it: we can come to think of discipleship as costly, and of non-discipleship as a path of ease. The truth, of course, is that both paths exact their price — it’s just not the same price.
Today’s Daily Office readings show us that in spades. It’s a famous passage, the one in which King Herod’s daughter Salome demands the death of John the Baptist. It is the day of a great banquet, one to which Herod has invited all this lords and princes. Herod asks that his daughter dance to entertain the company, and Salome dances so beautifully (or seductively) that Herod offers her anything she wants, up to half of her kingdom. And Salome runs to her mother for advice, and Herodias, who hated John the Baptist, tells her to demand his head on a platter.
Talk about a squandered opportunity! Salome could have had anything: homes, parks, horses, jewels, the husband of her choice, the freedom to take a long trip to see a place she had always longed to see — and she wastes it in a grudge-match. At the end of the tale, she does not have more life, more freedom, more joy; she’s only got a bleeding severed head rotting and attracting flies.
Our missed opportunities are rarely that graphic, but they are no less real. The grudges we nurse, that take the joy out of hours of our time; the destructive habits that squander our days in emptiness; even consumption itself, the time we spend on shopping instead of with those we love.
This is Lent, when we are asked to examine our lives and begin to live in more faithful, more life-giving ways. Ask yourself, What is the cost of my non-discipleship? What would I gain if I allowed myself to be free?
grace, mercy, forgiveness and new life…..we can’t preach it or live it enough. Please keep preaching them and let’s all promise to keep living them………