Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young German Lutheran pastor who chose to ally himself with the underground resistance and work for the defeat of Adolf Hitler before and during World War 2. One of the books he wrote during that time is entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship,” a book that encapsulates the “fire in the belly” that Bonhoeffer had about knowing and serving Christ alone.
He and others understood the dangers that German Socialism posed to Germany, as the Nazi party sought to make history without God. He worked tirelessly to call the Church to hear and live according to the message of Scripture, and walk in submission to the Lordship of Jesus. He was devoted to Jesus and called others to follow his example in obeying the Word of God, living in committed relationships, and practice the teachings of Jesus found in the New Testament. If men and women did as Jesus commanded, they would find the power of God to assist them in the spirit and practice of genuine Christian community.
Christian living and church renewal, according to Bonhoeffer, are dependent on a rich understanding and obedience to Scripture. He calls others to follow after Jesus, knowing it is hard, but if done, would result in true life, freedom, and liberty.
The Cost of Discipleship is broken down into four sections: the first covers topics such as costly grace, the call to discipleship, single-minded obedience, discipleship and the cross, and discipleship and the individual. The second offers a rich exposition of The Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7, where he brings the reader face to face with Jesus and his teachings. The third describes the messengers of Jesus, and the last deals with the church of Jesus and the life of discipleship.
One of the many Bonhoeffer quotes that have been highlighted from The Cost of Discipleship is, “Cheap grace is the grace that we bestow on ourselves…the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship.”
Another quote is, “It is costly because it cost a man (Jesus) his life, and grace because it gives a man true life.”
Read Galatians 2:20-21.
Bonhoeffer believed he was fighting for a renewed understanding and lifestyle of costly grace for the Church in Germany. Cheap grace was too easy, he said, because it required too little from those who attempted to follow Jesus on their terms. Christians do not have the prerogative to determine which commands of Jesus they adhere to, and when. Christians are called to live as Jesus did, in the power of the Spirit. Christians are called to live as Jesus did, because He is the King, and He has described the requirements and expectations of those living under His Lordship. His kingdom is not a democracy, and the path He expects his subjects to follow is death to self, then life in and through Him.
What does costly grace mean to you? How do you plan to confront cheap grace in your own understanding and behavior? How about in your Chi Alpha chapter? Think theologically. Grace wins if we pick up our cross and follow Jesus in submission and service.
Love is a verb,
©2017 by Mike Olejarz