Over the years, I have found that many whom I consider my closest friends, lived generations before me. CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, MLK, John RW Stott, and a handful of others. Bonhoeffer is one friend who encourages me often. If you know his story then you understand why. Bonhoeffer was a German Christian who fought courageously against the injustices of Nazi Germany. He was martyred at Hitler’s command because of his involvement in the Resistance on April 8, 1945, only days before the Flossenberg Prison was liberated by Allied Forces. I have come to love and appreciate his writing, theology, and history. His book, The Cost of Discipleship is well worn as it sits on my shelf, and was actually one of the first books that I read as God began my own spiritual transformation. Bonhoeffer sought the truth which is found solely in Christ. Faith involving the whole of one’s life. The call of Jesus to a new life.
What Bonhoeffer calls the church to, in The Cost of Discipleship, is whole hearted, total, in-with-both-feet, complete commitment to God the Father, through Christ the Son. He calls the believer to reckon the cost of the cross and the lives we are called to as Christ’s disciples.
He begins with these words, “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s wares…. Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system…. Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner…. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate….
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in a field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him…. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life” (pp43-5).
Bonhoeffer’s question (and mine as well) is this: Does the “costly grace” of God impact us to the extent that our relationship with Him, through Christ, penetrates every facet, every aspect of our being? Does the cross of Christ penetrate our hearts to the extent that we respond with unadulterated faithfulness?
Of course, only you and I can answer such questions within ourselves. And, such questions are not answered one time only, but rather day by day, moment by moment.
Glory to God!