I like to consider myself a pretty avid reader. The fact that 4 of the 7 pieces of furniture in my room are bookshelves would probably suport that belief. with all that reading there is one theory that I have come to believe pretty strongly when it comes to reading theology: All of the great theology books that come out these days are often just modern authors saying what authors from the past have already said, the problem is they don’t say it as well.
That being said my latest read from one of the ‘old school guys’ is Cost of Discipleship, By Dietrich Bonhoeffer. My next few posts I plan on trying to sumerize some of what Bonhoeffer talks about in the book, but I would first refer you once again to my previously said theory. Any attempt I make to express what Bonhoeffer did won’t express it nearly as well as he did, hence why this looks more like a list of quotes then me trying to re-express what he already said. In the end, you should read the book but I write this in hopes that it will encourage you to read it and also knowing that this blog might be the closest some of you may ever get to reading it.
As you read this blog understand it may not leave you feeling comfortable, in fact I would argue to say if you still do feel comfortable you weren’t truly reading. Let it sink in. Chew on it. Don’t turn straight back to your Facebook feed. Let the words settle on your heart.
All of that being said here we go…
Our society, our culture has become enamored with ‘cheap grace’. A grace that is presented like another item in the grocery store shelves. An option. Our Christian society has become salesmen, doing all we can to ‘sell’ the product of Christian grace, emphasizing more than anything else it’s ‘low cost’ feature.
But Christian grace isn’t cheap. The grace lavished upon us was brought to us through blood pain and death. The death not of a mere man, the death of G_D Himself! Cheep, free, inexpensive doesn’t describe Christian grace. This grace was costly, for it cost His very own Son. No amount of wealth could have achieved it. The gold reserves of earth could never have begun to crack open the gates of heaven.
But Further than simply a costly grace on His behalf it is a costly grace to us. “When he spoke of grace, Luther always implied as a corollary that it cost him his own life, the life which was now for the first time subjected to the absolute obedience of Christ”
We have comforted ourselves with the idea that we can do whatever we want with our lives ignoring the call of discipleship that is bonded with grace and receive the grace all the same. “It is under the influence of this kind of ‘grace’ that the world has been made ‘Christian’, at the cost of secularizing the Christian religion as never before.
“I need no longer try to follow Christ, for cheap grace, the bitterest foe of discipleship, which true discipleship must loathe and detest, freed me from that’
“We [Christians] have gathered like the eagles round the carcase of cheap grace, and there we have drunk the poison which has killed the life of following Christ’
The disease of cheap grace has so vastly infected our country that it is the reason that ‘hypocrite’ and ‘christian’ are words so often found together in conversation. It is the reason Bonhoeffer saw ‘millions of spiritual corpses’ in Germany in his own time. It is not true Christianity, it is a masquerade, and if it is not confronted it shall be the slow and quiet strangling of true Christianity
“We confess that, although our Church is orthodox as far as her doctrine of grace is concerned, we are no longer sure that we are members of a Church which follows its Lord”
“It was grace because it cost so much, and it cost so much because it was grace”.
And so “the most urgent problem besetting our Church is this: how can we live the Christian life in the modern world?”