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Jon Walker‘s recent book, Costly Grace is a contemporary view of German pastor, theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic work, The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 9 is called “Becoming Like Jesus in Authenticity.” The objective of Jesus is:

To teach us that life flows from God through Jesus into us and so our authenticity is measured in our hearts and not by our appearances.

God’s original plan was to have communion with humanity.  That fellowship was destroyed by sin.  Thus, God laid down the law to, as Walker states, “to push toward holy living.”  But the law was never meant to restore that broken communion with God.  Rather, it was laid down to show that we cannot meet God’s holy standards.  Therefore, we must depend on God’s grace to “get us back to where we now belong.”

While people, and Christians, place more stock on on outward appearances, it is actually the heart that matters:

Jesus says the motivations of the heart are more important than appearance.  When our motive is to hurt, destroy, or exclude others, we share the same motive with one who murders.

Walker goes on:

He declares that the slammed door; the if-looks-could-kill stare; the menacing tone; the threatening language; the cold shoulder; the pointed finger; the phrase that blames are all acts of murder against God’s creations; those who have been created by God as eternal beings; those who carry sin and shortcomings no different than the disciples of Jesus. There but for the grace of God go I.

Praise the Lord for the grace of God working in our lives.  As we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus and in our love for God, we can “live accordingly!”

Walker emphasized that the followers of Jesus need to take seriously the words of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount that murder can occur in our hearts when degrade and judge others.  People, according to C. S. Lewis, are eternal beings.  Thus, our concern with everyone–even our enemies–is their souls.

Walker then explained that Christians cannot truly worship God if they are in conflict with another believers:

Bonhoeffer says no matter how correct our liturgy, no matter how devout our prayer, no matter how brave our testimony, they will profit us nothing and, in truth, will even testify against us, if we do love other believers enough to make things right with them. God “wants no honour for himself so long as our brother is dishonoured,” says Bonhoeffer.

I like how Walker explains how corporate worship on earth is “the instruction manual of heaven’s reality.”

We show our oneness with God’s glory and our unity with other believers, praising God with our hearts as one.

In this chapter, Walker concludes:

I can no longer allow my heart to be counter to the character of Christ.  I must be authentic in the way I live, keeping my actions in line with (my) heart and my heart in line with Jesus.

An example of Fallen Thinking–

I can hide what is in my heart, even from God.

An example of Kingdom Thinking–

God sees and knows all of me and loves me anyway (Hebrews 4:13).

This chapter was a critical reminder for twenty-first century Christians that the words of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount were meant to transform our lives right now.  The task of kingdom building is urgent.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus flow through us.

 

 

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