Remember the Tom Hanks movie Castaway? It’s about a FedEx executive who’s plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean as he’s on his way to unclog a shipping artery in some remote part of the world. Chuck Noland’played by Hanks’survives the crash. He’s miraculously washed ashore on to a deserted Pacific island where he spends five years in utter isolation’losing touch with his loved ones and forever changing the course of his life.
For many men, this sounds uncomfortably familiar. That’s because the lack of communication and connection among men has created’metaphorically speaking’a culture of spiritual castaways.
The number one dilemma facing Christian men today is isolation. Today, more than perhaps any other time in history, American men feel emotionally and relationally isolated. Sure, most have friends and lead busy lives. But as a general condition, men aren’t connected to one another in any deep and meaningful way.
Yet every man feels, deep down, a longing to be known, loved, and valued as a friend by other men. Men want and need close friends, but our inability to be vulnerable with each other creates our’isolation.’ Men who wouldn’t think twice about risking in business or sports have enormous difficulty taking risks to expose what’s inside their souls.
Men, today I challenge you to recognize your need to be valued by other men, and seek an opportunity to connect with a friend on a deeper level.
Yesterday I spoke about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the difference between what he called ‘cheap and costly grace.’ Unlike Bonhoeffer, most of us probably won’t be called to martyrdom. But all of us are called to lay down our lives as living sacrifices in response to the grace given to us by our living God. All of us, in other words, are called to acknowledge that there’s a cost to Christian discipleship.
- It costs very little to attend church, join a men’s group, or go to a conference for Christian men. But it costs a great deal to come home and remain committed to following Christ when it means loving your family sacrificially.
- It costs very little to avoid pornographic magazines, videos and websites. But it costs much more to submit your mind and eyes to purity on a moment-by-moment basis.
- It costs something to send your children to Christian schools to be taught from a Christian world view. But it costs a lot more to live by example before your children’to shepherd their hearts with wisdom, consistency, strength, and compassion.
- It costs something to insist that your kids dress modestly. But it costs a lot more to help them to think and act modestly — with humility of spirit.
So, Christian man’husband’dad’where do you stand? Are you comfortable? Have you made too much peace with sin? If so, I challenge you to think about the cost of Christian discipleship, and be willing to spend what it takes to be a true disciple.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been widely recognized as one of the great moral heroes of the twentieth century, and rightly so. He was a highly regarded Lutheran minister at a time when other highly regarded Christian leaders’were compromising and making sure they didn’t make any waves against Hitler’s aggressive, tyrammical power. Bonhoeffer was among the few who resisted. And you know, resistance usually has its costs’Bonhoeffer’s cost everything. He was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually hung on April 9, 1945’less than a month before the war’s end.
Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s resistance was more than moral, it was Christian. It was grounded, shaped, and energized by the gospel, and by Bonhoeffer’s loving loyalty to the Lord of that gospel: Jesus Christ.
Amidst the tumultuous times of his day, Bonhoeffer wrote a book that has since become a Christian classic. It’s called The Cost of Discipleship. In it he contrasts what he calls ‘cheap and costly grace.’ Cheap grace, for Bonhoeffer, means grace without the cross. Costly grace, by way of contrast, is a grace that comes to us freely because it cost Christ his life’and that which is costly to God must never be seen as something that comes to us without a price.
Bonhoeffer’s point, men, is that the gospel makes a claim upon every aspect of our lives. It’s received freely, yet demands sacrificial discipleship as our response.
Is your understanding of the gospel comparable to Bonhoeffer’s? If it isn’t, give it some thought.