God incarnate, it could be safely argued, was perhaps the loneliest of all people, as can be concluded in his response to the verbal commitment of an unnamed disciple to follow him, wherever he went:
“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
~Luke 9:58b (NRSV)
The Divergent Polarity Of Fellowship In Discipleship
Yet the opening paragraph, above, is an unbalanced statement. Jesus had unique intimacy with the Father. Being the very essence, God, perhaps Jesus didn’t need humanity’s recognition or approval. But his humanity must surely have been hurt by the severest of rejections.
Despite his ever-centring congruence with the Father, and the Presence of perfect fellowship in God, Jesus was most alien to the typical human condition—of relative happy fellowship with humanity—because he was so set apart from run-of-the-mill, broken human beings. He loved his disciples perfectly, yet they were not capable of loving him as he loved them. The disciples prove to us how much we need a Saviour.
So, we can view Jesus this way:
Holding two starkly diverging realities simultaneously, one in the left hand and one in the right, he was both, at the same time, the most fulfilled-of-fellowship because of the oneness in the Trinity and the loneliest of all people. These are, consequently, two great identifiers for every servant of God committed in their discipleship.
We can enjoy the fullness of Spiritual fellowship, yet, at times, we’ll be driven into unparalleled loneliness. Both of these because we know God; this is due the acceptance of God and the rejection of the world. This is the position, the state, and the privilege of discipleship under the name of Jesus.
Living A Blessing That Is Also A Curse
This is a thing that so many will struggle with. Jesus requires that we pick up our cross and follow him; both to the heights of the Mount of Triumph and to the depths of the Valley of Tribulation. There truly is no middle ground. We have not one without the other. We must, if we’re to be located as true disciples, accept both realities—to be loved by God, but hated by certain humanity.
We never struggle with blessing, but we rail hard against the cursing of persecution.
And loneliness is the end result—the heart serially rejected—of many manifestations of persecution. We may not be following in the stead of Jesus if we haven’t felt persecuted, particularly to the ends of loneliness. The blessings of such loneliness, of course, are that we run into the arms of God.
Discipleship under Jesus can be a lonely pastime, but many, also, are the blessings. Being Christian is a difficult life, but one seasoned in grace by the highest heaven. Moreover, this life of devotion to God is the only true life, where the only thing we reject is lies. Finally, we have heaven, both here with the Spirit and away with God.
Heaven is in our hearts.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.