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.
Men, Jesus Christ is first and foremost the object of our faith. He’s also our primary example of what the life of faith looks like.
For instance, consider Christ’s humility’particularly the way He relinquished His will to the Father. Philippians chapter two says our attitude should be the same as His. Though He was truly God, He didn’t demand or cling to His rights as God. Instead, He made Himself as nothing. In His incarnation and life on earth, He took the humble position of a suffering servant. He lived in perfect obedience, yet died a criminal’s death on a cross.
And because of this humility, the Father raised Christ from death to sit at His right hand’a position of absolute honor, glory, and power.
But whatever you do, don’t miss the progression: Jesus’ humiliation preceded and precipitated His exaltation. Humility was a key element in Jesus’ life as He accomplished the Father’s will for fallen humanity.
If we’re to surrender to God and His will for us, we need to be humble as well. Jesus didn’t pray solely for His own will. He humbly prayed for His Father’s will to be done. We, too, ought to pray, ‘Father, I want your will, not mine.’ Men, this is the mark of humility and the beginning of real spiritual renewal.
Family is important. It provides relationships that will be your foundation, through thick and thin your entire life. What’s more, families are where we get our foundation spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. In short, families are the cradles of character.
But in Mark chapter three, Jesus demonstrates that as important as family truly is, it’s not what’s most important. The scene took place on a day when Jesus and His disciples were so overwhelmed by the crowds they didn’t even have time to eat. Jesus’ mother and brothers approached the house where Jesus was, but couldn’t get in. So they did the next best thing. They sent word inside that they wanted to speak to Jesus.
When Jesus heard this, He asked provocatively, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ Then He looked at the crowd around Him and declared that they‘those who did God’s will’were His true family members!
This is one of the many times where Jesus shatters our preconceived notions. Yes, your family is very important. It’s very important to God, and therefore, should be important to you as well. Yet family doesn’t take precedence over the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom makes a total claim upon us and radically reorders our entire existence. Therefore, to exalt anything over our loyalty to Jesus Christ is to make that thing an idol, even your family. Don’t let something good take the place of what’s clearly best.