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Jon Walker wrote in the Introduction of Costly Grace that many Christians fail to experience all that Jesus has for us:

Why, instead of the abundant life, do so many of us end up living lives of quiet desperation?  We go to church; we read the Bible; we pray; we try to be good people and to serve other people; yet for many of us, our life with Jesus doesn’t seem to be much more than an add-on to our increasingly complex lives, where are over-stretched and now seem to be a facing a tsunami of uncertainty in many areas that for so long have seem relatively scare–our finances, our jobs, our homes, and even our fundamental safety.

Our American solution to this is…

…we try harder, work harder, pray harder, study harder, and try to figure out what we’re doing wrong because that’s what we think Jesus wants us to do.

Walker points out that such a approach will lead to worn-out followers of Jesus.  The answer, according to Walker, is not to try harder but to trust Jesus more.  Yet, with that said, we can still slip into our old ways of trying harder.  This is where the grace of Jesus comes in.  It is a grace that is always there for Christians to be empowered to live for Jesus.  As Walker put it…

Jesus died and was resurrected so that you could get there today and stay there everyday of your life.  You can access it at any time.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the The Cost of Discipleship because he knew that the German church had lost focus on Jesus, and thus, the true meaning of following him (discipleship).  True discipleship means being intimate with Jesus.  Bonhoeffer’s concerns for the German church in the 1930’s are also our concerns for the twenty-first century church in America:

  1. The church has reduced the gospel to a set of burdensome rules.
  2. We have wrapped the gospel in a sense of false hopes (For example, “I can sin because of grace”)

The answer is that Jesus brings us both grace and truth.  There is error when one or the other is left out.  Grace will keep us from being legalistic and truth will keep us from licentiousness.  Thus…

We must go to Jesus, not only to learn how to live, but to receive the life from which we live–his life placed in us to create in us the righteousness of God and the characteristics of Christ.  The essence of discipleship, then, is to know Jesus at a level of intimacy that can only be sustained by his constant presence in our lives.

Bonhoeffer points out that Jesus will give us the strength to live for him.  But a key component of all this is whether we live like citizens of heaven (kingdom thinking) or citizens of a fallen earth (fallen thinking).

There is a cost in following Jesus.

Walker’s final words in the Introduction are:

Jesus calls, you must respond.  My prayer is that this book will help you see the simplicity of following Jesus while also helping you understand the cost of such discipleship!

October 2010
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