Last year I heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the first time. I never thought in a million years this Pastor German theologian from the 1930’s who died as a Martyr who piloted against Hitler in WW2 would impact me as it has. But with a bio like that, how could his life not have an impact on the generations after him? After reading Bonhoeffer by by Eric Metaxas, I ordered his first book, The Cost of Discipleship.
When I first started reading it, I kept thinking about the journey Bonhoeffer was on and the culture he was talking to. But soon after the first few pages, I began to think of my journey, and the culture I live in. The questions he was addressing, I’ve asked, but his conclusions weren’t afraid of the answers.
“…only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ.”
“Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
“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. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son.”
Here I was reading the fundamentals of Christianity and yet it was so new to me. Why hasn’t anyone told me to read this book years ago? Now when I have conversations with my friends about living the Christian life, I find myself referring back to Bonhoeffer explanations on what living as a disciple really means.
Bonhoeffer writes these amazing chapters where he ask a question, and takes you on a journey looking for the answer. When he takes you to the conclusion, its like seeing the Scriptures in color for the first time. Simple concepts that I thought I knew. He goes in to depth.
The Sermon on the Mount,
Judging others – “If the disciples make judgements of their own, they set up standards of good and evil. But Jesus Christ is not a standard which I can apply to others. He is judge of myself, revealing my own virtues to me as something altogether evil..Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating.”
Loving your Enemies –
“…Men should defeat their enemies by loving them.”
“We must love not only in thought and word, but in deed, and there are opportunities of service in every circumstance of daily life.”
“His behavior must be determined not by the way others treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus; it has only one source, and that is the will of Jesus.”
“…not only to refrain from treating him a he treats us, but actively to engage in heart-felt love towards him”
The chapter of loving your enemies made me think of what Bonhoeffer was going through at the time. Being a Christian German in the early 1930’s. Crazy to know he lived this…and know that he died for this.
Reading The Cost of Discipleship help me see the world and myself in a new perspective. It also required me to look in the mirror and to realize just what the gospel was saying to me.
“It is only because he became like us that we can become like him…By being transformed into his image, we are enabled to model our lives on his.”
“His life on earth is not finished yet, for he continues to live in the lives of his followers.”
Above all else, what I learned most, when I die to my own will, He lives.