Stewards4Christ

April 12, 2009

Easter Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 8:05 am

Sixty-four years ago on Thursday of this week (4/9), Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  Bonhoeffer died at my age (39) – but yet he left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten.  Here is the context of his most famous quote:

 The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. (The Cost of Discipleship, 99) [Source: www.desiringgod.org.]

 Here is a quote from Wikipedia regarding Bonhoeffer’s book: 

One of the most important parts of the book deals with the distinction which Bonhoeffer makes between “cheap” and “costly” grace. But what is “cheap” grace? In Bonhoeffer’s words: “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” Or, to put it even more clearly, it is to hear the gospel preached as follows: “Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness.” The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship.

In contrast to this is costly grace: “costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “

Bonhoeffer argues that as Christianity spread; the Church became more “secularized”, accommodating the demands of obedience to Jesus to the requirements of society. In this way, “the world was Christianized, and grace became its common property.” But the hazard of this was that the gospel was cheapened, and obedience to the living Christ was gradually lost beneath formula and ritual, so that in the end, grace could literally be sold for monetary gain. 

I find these thoughts to be very thought provoking and appropriate as we celebrate Good Friday and Easter.  The cost of being a disciple is the same as it has always been, see Luke 9:23-27.  I’m thankful that my heart says “yes” to His will and to His way.  I have no desire in my heart other than that of pleasing our Holy God…all of the days of my life.

The thoughts by Dietrich Bonhoeffer make me think about the old hymn, Am I a Soldier of the Cross, written by Isaac Watts:

Am I a soldier of the cross,

A follower of the Lamb,

And shall I fear to own His cause,

Or blush to speak His Name?

 
 

Must I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize,

And sailed through bloody seas?

 
 

Are there no foes for me to face?

Must I not stem the flood?

Is this vile world a friend to grace,

To help me on to God?

 
 

Sure I must fight if I would reign;

Increase my courage, Lord.

I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,

Supported by Thy Word.

 
 

Thy saints in all this glorious war

Shall conquer, though they die;

They see the triumph from afar,

By faith’s discerning eye.

 
 

When that illustrious day shall rise,

And all Thy armies shine

In robes of victory through the skies,

The glory shall be Thine.

 

May we all do our best to be soldiers of the cross of Christ…may God help us all to pay the price – to bear the toil and endure the pain, knowing we’ll be supported by His word! This morning I received a newsletter from Kim Collingsworth (www.thecollingsworthfamily.com), Kim provided this quote from her Dad which is excellent, “I’m glad to be an Easter Christian in a Good Friday world!” Those are my thoughts as well…what a blessing to be a Christian today and know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and soon coming King!

Happy Easter!

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