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Jon Walker‘s book, Costly Grace was released on October 1.  It is a wonderful book based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic work, The Cost of Discipleship. The title of chapter 6 is “Becoming Like Jesus by developing His Character.”

The objective of Jesus is:

To teach us the characteristics of Jesus develop in us because we obediently trust God to fulfill his promises, not because we try hard to be like Jesus.

Walker develops this chapter by turning to the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 6.  For the beatitudes to be a reality, one must exercise faith and learn to depend on God.  Faith is not a weakness.  Rather, it is like air which sustains life.  Walker does a good job of explaining the contrast Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount between the self-righteousness of the religious leaders and the true righteousness that is ours when we depend on Jesus.

Walker then describes what life will look like when we follow Jesus.  It is a life that will be characterized by the beatitudes:

  • Dependant based on Matthew 5:3–“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need fro him, for the kingdom of God is theirs.” (Walker the New Living Translation for these verses.  Like his friend, Rick Warren, Walker will switch between various translations of God’s Word).
  • Mourning: “God Blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
  • Meek: “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth” (Matthew 5:5).
  • Just: “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
  • Merciful: “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
  • Pure: “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).
  • Peaceful: “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
  • Righteous: “God blesses who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:10).

Walker wrote that when we decide to follow Jesus and abandon everything to do so, we will actually find true life:

Jesus calls us into a community of believers, where Bonhoeffer says, “the poorest, meekest, and most sorely tired of all men is to be found–on the cross of Golgotha.” With Jesus we lose it all, but with Jesus we find it all.

As in previous chapters, Walkers concludes by giving examples of Fallen Thinking and Kingdom Thinking…

An example of Fallen Thinking:

I become like Jesus by trying harder to act like Jesus.

An example of Kingdom Thinking:

I become like Jesus by obediently trusting him.

American Christians are prone to try harder and harder to better Christians.  Yet, the formula of Jesus in Sermon on the Mount guards us from the mentality that hard work will transform us into better. We do need to work hard in the spiritual disciplines but we need to remember that Jesus taught us that by wholly depending on God’s grace, we will have the strength to live for him.  But, how many of us will begin our days by approaching God in poverty of spirit and mourning and meekness?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw the urgent need for the Church in 1930’s Germany to understand this message of Jesus.

Jon Walker, in a very fresh way, brings that same message to the twenty-first century Church.

 

 

 

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