Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Review: Cost of Discipleship

There is a stack of recently read books on my dining table that I intend to review for you. I've given up on the hope of reviewing them all at once - I don't have the time to write that much - you don't have the time to read it - so, I'll deal with them one at a time. I present to you my first book review.

The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I chose this book as a devotional after noticing how often Christian authors quote Bonhoeffer... why not go to the source? I began reading it in September of last year, when we were in Kibera, Kenya, and finished it about a year later. This is a challenging, deep, thought-provoking book... it should go without saying that I loved it.

Bonhoeffer writes topically - Part One deals with "Grace & Discipleship", Two is a series of commentaries on the Sermon on the Mount, Three is "The Messengers" (the apostles), Four is "The Church of Jesus Christ and the Life of Discipleship".

I especially appreciated the first chapter, "Costly Grace". Here I read:

"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 the 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 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 cost God the life of His son... it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us."

These words are indeed challenging, yet inspiring. I can't read this passage without getting chills. This is the relationship I want with Christ. To love Him so much I would go anywhere or pay any cost. To recognize that He paid a dear price in order to save me from my sin; to realize my gratitude every day.

I recommend this book to those who are willing to walk the narrow road. It's not a devotional collection of warm & fuzzy anecdotes, but a challenging call to a life of holiness. The title is apt: true discipleship comes with a cost, a truth for which Bonhoeffer lived and ultimately gave up his life.

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