The Editor’s Desk by Shawn McMullen
The neighborhood where my brother and I grew up was filled with boys of a similar age. When the weather permitted we played outdoors with abandon—valiant commanders leading our armies in epic struggles, cowboys and Indians vying for control of the wild west, or famous explorers mapping dangerous and uncharted territories.
Except at snack time. When we got hungry we stormed the dwelling closest to our most recent adventure for cookies and milk, Kool-Aid and crackers—anything the keeper of the castle we conquered would relinquish.
I believe we were appreciative—for the most part. But we failed consistently in one area. A few minutes into our visits, our host would say to the kid standing closest to the entrance, “You left the door wide open. Are you coming, or going? Are you in, or out?” I’m not sure we ever got the hang of it.
Perhaps each of us should ask similar questions about our personal relationship with the Lord. “When it comes to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, am I coming, or going? Am I in, or out?”
A disciple is a learner. A follower. One who emulates a teacher or master. The process of discipleship requires close association. When Jesus began his ministry, “He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him” (Mark 3:14). When he called his disciples individually saying, “Come, follow me” (1:17), each man had the option of saying yes or no—of coming, or going; of opting in, or opting out.
This occurred on a larger scale too. After speaking with him near a well at Sychar, a Samaritan woman brought many others to Jesus. “So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days” (John 4:40). These potential followers of Christ stood in the doorway of discipleship and chose to enter, urging Jesus to stay. And he did.
Sadly, not everyone chose wisely. When word got out that Jesus had healed a man people thought was beyond help, the demon-possessed terror of the Gerasenes, “the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region” (Mark 5:17). These folks had an opportunity similar to the Samaritans. They, too, stood in the doorway of discipleship. They had to ask themselves, “Am I coming, or going? Am I in, or out?” They chose to remain outside. They asked Jesus to leave, and he did.
Jesus opens the doorway of discipleship to each of us. It leads to a life that, while often challenging, yields greater rewards and blessings than we can imagine. But he leaves it to us to decide whether to enter or to remain outside. We can ask him to stay, or we can ask him to leave.
In the end, he gives us what we wish. Those who stand at the doorway of discipleship and choose to enter, desiring to live with Christ, get what they wish both now and in eternity. Those who stand at the doorway but choose to remain outside, desiring to live apart from Christ, also get what they wish both now and in eternity.
Are you in, or out?