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NOW OR NEVER: PACK YOUR COFFIN
The Christian faith was never meant to be an easy road, a painless journey, or a simple three-step adherence to a set of beliefs. To follow Jesus demands we give everything and invest all we have, and are, for the One who has laid down everything for us. He gave His life for us. The question is: Will we give our lives for Him?
He was a pastor, theologian, and author. His book on discipleship, which has since become a classic, was published when he was about thirty years old.
You might wonder: What does a thirty-year-old know about discipleship? What does he understand about the sacrifice involved in following Jesus? Why listen to a relatively young man writing from his ivory tower of the church and surrounded by his theological textbooks?
Before we are too hard on this idealistic preacher, let's hear a bit more of his story. Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not live to celebrate his fortieth birthday. He was arrested by the Gestapo in April 1943 and executed by hanging in a Nazi concentration camp in April 1945. His life ended only three weeks before the Germans surrendered to the Allied Forces and World War II ended.
Why was a German Lutheran pastor imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp for two years and then executed? The answer is simple: because he followed Jesus, no matter what the cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was all in. He saw the evil that Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement was bringing into the world and across his own country of Germany — and he stood in opposition.
He joined a resistance movement because his faith in Jesus and commitment to follow the Savior compelled him to push back. He could not remain idle as countless Jewish men, women, and children were being persecuted and executed. His faith called him to dangerous and costly action.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer went all in for the All in All and it cost him everything! In his book on discipleship, aptly titled The Cost of Discipleship, he called people to follow Jesus regardless of the consequences. Before he was forty, he had an opportunity to put his writings — based on the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount — into practice. As he did, it cost him his life.
Talk About It
What are some ways a Christian can stand up for Jesus in today's society? What are some of the possible consequences we might face if we were to actually stand up in this way?
Video Teaching Notes
As you watch the video teaching segment for session one, use the following outline to record thoughts and reflections that stand out to you.
Pack your coffin
Time to go all in
A Copernican revolution ... the inverted gospel
Who's following whom?
God is doing amazing things
What is consecration?
Counting the cost of discipleship
1. If you packed everything you needed to follow Jesus for the rest of your life into a wooden coffin, what would you take with you?
2. Read: Luke 9:23–25. When Jesus spoke the words recorded in this passage, He had not yet gone to the cross to die for our sins. What images and ideas must have gone through the minds of Jesus' followers when He invited them to live out the four distinct calls expressed here? In other words, what do you think they thought Jesus was calling them to do when He said:
Take up your cross
Lose your life
How do most Christians interpret and understand these same four callings today?
3. What are some signs and indicators that Christians in our culture today are playing it safe and not counting the cost of really following Jesus?
When you are operating in "Safe Mode," how does your Christian faith change and begin to look too tame?
4. Read: John 3:27–30. John the Baptist lived and died with a deep sense of commitment to keep Jesus supreme. His motto, "He must become greater; I must become less," said it all. When you look at the words, ministry, life, and death of John the Baptist, what do you learn from his example of being all in?
5. What are signs and indicators in our daily life that show us — and the people around us — that we have forgotten that Jesus is the center of the universe, not us?
6. Tell about a time in your Christian faith when you were all in, sold out, and unreservedly passionate about Jesus. What led you to that point?
7. Think of the days, weeks, or seasons you are not all in and sold out for Jesus. What leads to such times and what helps you rekindle the fire and get back to a place of full devotion to the Savior?
8. Read: Matthew 4:18–22. In this short passage four different men have their own moment of reckoning with Jesus. Each one leaves his nets (his vocation, the family business, his place of security) to follow Jesus. What does this kind of devotion look like today?
What is something you have left (or need to leave) as you follow Jesus with a heart that is all in?
9. Joshua 3:5 says, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you." In the video teaching for this session Mark says, "Consecration means to be set apart. It demands full devotion. It is dethroning yourself and enthroning Jesus. It is the complete divestiture of all self- interest. In short, it is going all in and all out for the All in All." What does consecration look like in your life?
What is one step you need to take in the coming days to consecrate yourself to and for God?
10. Mark shares an honest fear he faces as a pastor. He says, "I'm afraid we've cheapened the gospel by allowing people to buy in without selling out. We've made it too convenient, too comfortable. We've given people just enough Jesus to be bored but not enough to feel the surge of holy adrenaline that courses through your veins when you decide to follow Him no matter what, no matter where, no matter when." Offer some examples of how the church has allowed believers to be too comfortable and how our faith has become too convenient.
What can we do to become more engaged, invested, sold out, and dangerous for Jesus?
Take time as a group to pray in any of the following directions:
Thank God for followers of Jesus who have lived sacrificial and surrendered lives — whether they are people you have met, Bible characters, or people from the history of the church. Give praise to God for their faith, boldness, and example.
Pray that your life will one day be an example of surrender and passionate commitment to Jesus for those who come after you.
Thank God for the time you experienced a personal Copernican revolution. If you have not yet experienced this, ask the Holy Spirit to bring you to this place of radical life transformation.
Tell Jesus that you are ready to deny yourself, take up your cross, lose your life, and follow Him.
Excerpted from All In Study Guide by Mark Batterson, Kevin Harney, Sherry Harney. Copyright © 2013 Mark Batterson. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
SESSION 1 Now or Never: Pack Your Coffin.................... 9
SESSION 2 All In: Charge!.................... 27
SESSION 3 All Out: Rim Huggers.................... 47
SESSION 4 All in All: Burn the Ships.................... 71
Small Group Leader Helps.................... 91
Posted May 21, 2014