Top 10 Ways to Rationalize Your Way Out of Discipleship

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1. Christ: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Mtt 16:24

Rationalization: Christ is saying that we are to deny ourselves some things we enjoy and replace them with godly things. Crosses no longer exist and so he must figuratively be saying to go through pain or trial or to giving up something of great value to us. To follow Jesus means to be at church on Sunday and take the Lord’s supper and maybe a few other minimum standards.

2. Christ: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Mtt 6:33

Rationalization: Christ is saying that if we want something we will eventually get it if we just do things God’s way for a while.

3. Christ: “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” – Mark 10:21

Rationalization: We have to have things or else we cannot survive. I will only hold on to the essentials and follow Christ. Then we label the essentials all the things that we feel we couldn’t live without which results in giving up nothing.

4. Christ: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” – Mtt 5:44-45

Rationalization: I will put up the appearance that I care for my enemies but it is alright to pray them harm by way of the government or the justice system or think bad thoughts about them.

5. Christ: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrits do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.” – Mtt 6:2

Rationalization: How do we really tell who is needy? The panhandlers on the street corner make a few hundred dollars a day and who knows what they are spending it all on anyway. If I give to the needy I will get taken advantage of so I will be a good steward and avoid the needy.

6. Christ: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.” – Mtt 6:19-20

Rationalization: How do you define treasure?

7. Christ: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do…” – Mtt 6:16

Rationalization: There is no command to fast in the New Testament so why go through all of that?

8. Christ: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Mtt 28:19-20

Rationalization: You have to be a minister or a missionary to reach the lost. That is something we do in other countries and not here in my neighborhood. Besides, everyone in America has probably heard about Jesus by now. I won’t be telling them anything new.

9. Christ: “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
Rationalization: Showing up for church is bearing fruit. It is also enough just to not bear much bad fruit.

10. Christ: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” – John 15:18-19

Rationalization: If the world hates us then we won’t win any people to Christ. So we need to look a lot like the world to win people and not seem weird. That is alright as long as a couple things are different about us because we take seriously the call of Jesus to be other than the world.

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0 Responses

  1. Matt, I was thinking about this list and thought about #10 again. I think it could go another way as well. I think some people behave really strangely in the name of Christ, and then rationalize when people don’t like them that Christ said that they would be hated by the world. They aren’t necessarily doing anything to try to win souls to Christ, they don’t give it much effort because Christ said the world would hate them anyway. Just a thought.

  2. Kind of like reading “Blessed are the poor” in Luke 6 and insisting that the Holy Spirit committed a typo and left out “in spirit.” Or…

    Naw, no reason to ruin a good list. Thanks for sharing that.

    Grace and peace,

  3. Justin,

    Probably a combination of things. I have been reading Heifetz on leadership, Bonhoeffer on Discipleship, and a bunch of stuff on Christ and Culture. All of that clicked together somewhere for a few of those to pop in my head and then the list formed.

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