A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matthew 10:24-25 ESV)
My reading in Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship today focused on Jesus instructions to his disciples in Matthew 10. The chapter, titled “The Suffering of the Messengers,” dealt with the hard reality of the life of discipleship. One passage in particular stood out to me:
The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the divisions which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace.
The Cost of Discipleship was first published in 1937, during the height of Nazi Germany. Roderick Stackelberg, in his Hitler’s Germany: Origins, Interpretations, Legacies, quoted Hitler as saying in 1941 that religion “must rot like a gangrenous limb” (137). In his world, Bonhoeffer accepted the reality of discipleship — he would be hated.
Today, 70 years later, we live in a world not unlike Bonhoeffer’s. Earlier this year, a British court ruled against allowing a Christian couple care for foster children due to their religious beliefs (read about it here). Last fall, Apple made news when it censored an app from the Manhattan Declaration supporting traditional marriage (read about it here).
But like those who have gone before us, we can take hold fast to Christ’s word’s of comfort to his disciples. After He warns them about what to expect, Jesus says:
So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:26-33 ESV)