Christianity’s claim, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” appears to be a clear absurdity. It attempts to harmonize two mutually exclusive terms. The biblical presentation of Christian discipleship as:

  • Comfort experienced through suffering;
  • Glory manifested through shame;
  • Life working through death;
  • Riches won through poverty; and
  • Power expressed through weakness

borders on gibberish. It at least presents us with a paradox.

It is my judgment, however, that it is this paradox that drives us to the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. It is the radical disjunction between the secular prejudices of our culture and the biblical conception of Christian discipleship that spawns this paradox in our perception.

In other words, what we witness in the biblical presentation of discipleship is a clash between two value systems. So many of us are clearly products of our times—secular to the core and intoxicated on the outlook of our modern world. Scripture, on the other hand, filters everything through the story of the cross.

The Bible presents the rejected, humiliated, and crucified Jesus of Nazareth as Lord of all and Christian disciples as servants of all. Too many so-called disciples are merely exploiting the self-exalting tendencies of our culture in order to secure a life of honor, comfort, ease, and esteem—all in the name of Christianity. Such an approach to Christian discipleship speaks volumes about the popular (mis)understanding of who Jesus is, what He teaches, and what He expects from His people.

Make no mistake, the life of a Christian disciple is not a “natural” life at all. In fact, the life of a disciple is, when evaluated by the values of this fallen world, an extremely unnatural life.