Count the Cost

Bonhoeffer.jpgGerman pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote an influential book in 1937 commonly known as “The Cost of Discipleship.” The book is best known for its discussion of cheap grace vs. costly grace:

“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin … cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.”

On the other hand costly grace is costly,

“because it calls to discipleship; it is grace, because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live.” 

While the church is a proclaimer of grace, the church suffers when we only offer up cheap grace.  The church suffers when it is merely nourished by cheap grace. Why? Because there is another side to following Jesus. And it requires sacrifice. It requires counting the cost. If interested read Luke 14:25~35.

While God gives grace in abundance, he also calls for obedience. Jesus makes it clear that we need to count the cost of obedience NOW. To follow in the footsteps of a crucified Savior is not an easy journey. It requires sacrifice.  It is not enough to be merely counted as present for the teachings and miracles of Jesus. The march to Easter morning is not a parade. The life of a disciple is not a spectator sport. Discipleship requires wholehearted devotion, complete allegiance, and for disciples around the world ~ possible martyrdom.

Jesus speaks of hating your family and even hating your own life. Is this a contradiction with Jesus’ other teaching? What about Jesus’ call to rid yourself of hate? What about Jesus’ call to love your neighbor as yourself? Jesus is not in contradiction. Rather, he is using powerful and pointed language to stress that following Jesus comes before all things … even things you hold dear.

Yet, Jesus is not done making powerful and pointed statements. He adds that, “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciples.” Carrying the cross derives from the Roman custom of making condemned persons carry the crossbar to the place of their own execution. It is an image of a procession with an already determined conclusion – death.  Jesus will personally demonstrate this for his disciples.

Many people devour the false gospel of prosperity. Come to Jesus and receive fame, fortune, and everything you desire. To follow this false gospel you would need to rip Luke 14 out of your New Testament.

Many people devour the less severe, but just as false, gospel of life enhancement. Come to Jesus and he’ll make everything better.  To follow this false gospel you would need to rip Luke 14 out of your New Testament.

In reality you will lose everything no matter what choice you make in life. You can devote your life to things of this world and loose out on a Savior and everlasting life. Or you can loose out on things of this world and gain a Savior and everlasting life.

One thought on “Count the Cost

  1. With your permission, Jeff, I would like to share this with some of my prayer group friends and our interim pastor at our church. And, no, I haven’t come to grips with, “Am I doing the work of the church or just doing church work?”, yet.

    We recently put some new tile in the church ceiling – a job long overdue with water stains and some of it falling down, but it took some soul searching and prayer because of the financial aspect. Could we/should we have used that money elsewhere in a more mission oriented purpose? I don’t know.

    Really appreciate your blogs. My wife has been putting us in the poor house buying the books you recommend in your readings. LOL


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