I think this might be the book that completely overturned my understanding of grace and discipleship, which are concepts so fundamental to the core of Christianity. Never has any other author explained with such clarity, conviction and rawness of the truth of Christ-following.
In an age that individualism and Hedonism being so exalted in both the sacred and secular world, the sacrifice that is required to follow Christ seems distance, cold and unattractive. Even genuine Christians are sometimes taught they are entitled to enjoy – by means of loving God – prosperity, health, fame and self-fulfilment in this world, now. This cannot be further away from the truth that Jesus required his disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, persevere in persecutions, and to pray without ceasing the Kingdom, glory and rewards in the age to come.
If following Christ means we are to expect much comfort and success in this life, why did Paul write all the letters to affirm the churches in their persecutions? Then did all the apostles and martyrs of faith suffered and died in vain?
(2 Timothy 3:12) “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Isn’t it for reasons of encouragement that Paul wrote this to Timothy?
In this age we Christians are prone to hear words that we like. We love to hear that we are children of God; we love to hear that our transgressions forgiven; we love to hear about eternal life; we love to hear we are the light and salt, city on a hill. None of the above is unbiblical, yet I believe that half-presented truth often breeds danger. We cannot, and we must not deny the harsh truth that is also in the Bible, for indeed the gate is narrow and way is hard that leads to life.
This is not just an issue facing 21st century believers, Bonhoeffer also perceived the danger of a lukewarm, softened version of Christianity in his days. He coined the term ‘Cheap Grace’, and its opposition, ‘Costly Grace’.
Grace and Discipleship are indubitably inseparable, one is nullified without the other. The moment we receive grace we are called to discipleship. The same goes with Belief and Obedience. One cannot believe unless he obeys, and also truly, one cannot obey unless he believes.
Much can be expanded on this topic, and I feel like writing on and on. In fact a great number of books have been devoted fully to explore the depth of grace and discipleship. I believe a Christian cannot live to the fullness of his calling and enjoy the abundance in Christ, until he understands the cost and is willing to submit wholesomely to Christ, and to will to suffer for Christ – as that is indeed the disciple’s joy to do so.
Obtain a Kindle copy of this book here:
The Cost of Discipleship (SCM Classics)