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Jon Walker‘s book, Costly Grace was recently released.  It is both a simple and blunt book based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic work, The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 7 is called “Becoming Like Jesus in Influence .”

Jesus’ Objective–To teach us that our influence flows from God through Jesus to us, not from power, prestige, or even personal piety.

Walker makes it clear in this chapter the followers of Jesus are to make an impact for Jesus on the world.

If you are his disciple, then you are influential.

Christians and the Church are God’s means to keep the world from collapsing.  Christians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  This is only possible through the power of Jesus in us.  And it is not an option…

Our refusal to use our influence is nothing short of rebellion against God’s plan of salvation and grace.  We are refusing to participate in God’s plan.  We want the privilege of grace without the responsibility.  We’re unwilling–and that doesn’t mean we’re unable–to pay the cost of discipleship.

Bonhoeffer wrote of the curse of “cheap grace” in the 1930’s German church.  It also exists in the twenty-first century American church.  But we can have a profound influence on the people around because of our close connection to Jesus.  The American church does, I believe, want to represent Jesus well in the world.  But Walker points out that we go about it the wrong way.  The wrong way is to preach and teach that our focus should be on behavior rather than on Jesus.

To be a Christian and not be an influence is the revolutionary thought.  Jesus says you are the salt of the earth and that makes you normal in the kingdom of heaven.

To quote Bonhoeffer:

“How impossible, how utterly absurd it would be for the disciples–these disciples, such men as these!–to try and become the light of the world! No, they are already the light, and the call has made them so.”

Simply put, Christians cannot and should be hidden from the world. We continually trust Jesus so that the light will be revealed through us.  Being salt and light translates into good works.  Those works are the result of God working in our lives; and thus, God gets the credit and the all the glory.

But God alone deserves glory.  If we clothe the naked or visit the imprisoned or feed the hungry, we don’t deserve praise.  If we are called before a tribunal and are punished for our faith in Christ, we deserve no glory.  We are merely being the light Christ has made us to be; we are simply shining from the hilltop on which he has placed us.

Walker concludes the chapter by pointing out that it is God and God alone who engineers our influence on the world.  Again, the author, gives several examples of Fallen Thinking and Kingdom Thinking. I will close with an example of each…

Fallen Thinking…My influence and visibility is a result of my own efforts or because of my own goodness.

Kingdom Thinking…My influence and visibility is a result of who lives in me, not because of what I do.

May Jesus live his life in us!

October 2010


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