As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
“Discipleship” is one of those words—like “Trinity” or “eldership” or “Godhead”—that never appears in the Bible. It is an extra-biblical word (again, like those others) that is used to describe a condition or a reality that is found in Scripture. Although we never see the word itself, we all agree that the idea of discipleship appears over and over again in the text. It is certainly the state of being (living, acting) into which all of us as Christians are called.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak in chapel at my boys’ school. In that presentation I told stories about some of our ancient brothers and sisters who not only were willing to give up their lives for the sake of Christ, but who also, in many cases, actively sought the opportunity to be martyred for the cause. This is something that is practically foreign to us today. It is an extreme expression of dedication to our faith. It is also a demonstration of an acute awareness of the cost and demands of discipleship.
One of the early church martyrs was a man named Justin Martyr. Justin lived in the mid- to late-second century. A prolific writer, Justin is one among several early church scholars to whom we owe profound gratitude. His work continues to have significant impact today. It is important to note that Justin was not born to parents whose last name was “Martyr.” This was not the bouncing baby boy of John and Suzy Martyr. Rather, as was typical in the world in which he lived, Justin was awarded the moniker “Justin Martyr” as a result of the life that he lived (and the death that he died). His name was given to him because of who he was, because of his great influence, and because of his personal sacrifice.
Based upon the lives that we lead, and upon the way in which we treat and care for others in our world, friends and strangers alike, what name might others give us when we reach the end of our journey on this earth? How will we be remembered?