Authentic Discipleship 1

Authentic Discipleship1 (Vol. 1 – 7)


True Christian discipleship, C. S. Lewis would have us understand, is first a matter of the heart—the inner life: the recognition, acceptance, and surrender to God’s absolute authority over all the affairs of one’s life in a way that leaves no place to which one may call one’s own. But the surrendered heart, Lewis taught, must also express itself in active obedience to the claims placed upon the believer by the New Covenant. The heart and will of a disciple are, in fact, inextricably bound together. Lewis’s most poignant commentary on these matters, particularly the purpose of discipleship and the demands it presupposes, are found near the end of Book 4 of Mere Christianity.

Here Lewis made unavoidably clear that the ultimate purpose or aim of discipleship is to become perfectly Christlike. The Bible uses such phrases as “putting on Christ,” “becoming a partaker of the divine nature,” and “becoming a son or daughter of God,” to flesh out this idea. It is also embodied, Lewis pointed out, in the call to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” a command he took quite literally. In fact he stated that it “is the whole of Christianity” and that “God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful… whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.” God is not about the business of making nice people but rather new men and women perfected in the likeness of Christ. Consequently, Lewis went on to say, that the only help we can expect from the Lord is help in becoming perfect. We may want something less, but the Lord is committed to nothing less. Lewis was convinced that this was the very heart of the gospel and, therefore, was also the heart of the call to discipleship. It was the primary reason for which the Son of God came and suffered and died and rose from the grave. This he made unavoidably clear in the chapter “Counting the Cost.”
That is why He warned people to “count the cost” before becoming Christians. “Make no mistake,” He says, “if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have the free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you—whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.”

That this was the ultimate purpose God had in mind for the sending of his Son, Lewis believed, and it accordingly obligated every believer to do what he or she could to assist others in the way of Christlikeness.

1 Extracted from article: C.S. Lewis on Authentic Discipleship by Christopher W. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute.


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