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There are twenty eight chapters in Jon Walker‘s  book, Costly Grace. Walker takes a contemporary and helpful look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic book,  The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 26 is called: “Becoming Like Jesus to Others.” The chapter begins with the following words by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“When they are welcomed into a house, Christ enters with them.  They are bearers of his presence.  They bring with them the most precious gift in the world, the gift of Jesus Christ.  And with them they bring God the Father, and that means indeed forgiveness and salvation, life and bliss.  That is the reward and fruit of their toil and suffering.”

Because we are connected to Jesus, we are connected to other Christians.  Life is no longer about us, but about the agenda of Jesus.  Walker points out:

You’re the face of Jesus, showing up in the lives of others on his behalf.  You show up in the hospital; you show up at the funeral; you show up at the wedding; you show up across the fence as you talk to your neighbors.

As his ambassadors, he need to physically be with other people.  Jesus never left a tract on door or table.  The personal touch and the building of a relationship are the best routes to take as we represent Jesus.

Then in the fellowship of the Jesus, we are called to interact with one another.  We are to shock the world in the way we love one another.  The world can actually judge whether or not we are true disciples by our love or lack of love towards each other.  As Christians, we are parts in the body of Christ.  Thus, we don’t have to do everything.  Every Christian has a role in the ministry of the body.

Jesus calls us to support and encourage one another, so even the least of these contributes to the whole, as we do ministry and mission together.

Because of the wonderful grace of Jesus can we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others:

It is the cycle of grace–Jesus empties himself to leave heaven in order to fill us with his Spirit and that enables us to empty ourselves for others so they will be drawn to Jesus.  Jesus not only models self-sacrifice; he enables us to place the interests and concerns of others as the greater priority over our own.

Simply put, it isn’t about us…It is about others!

An example of Fallen Thinking:

I can live out the Christian faith without the help of Jesus and other other believers.

An example of Kingdom Thinking:

God’s plan for my life is partner with Him for the redemption of the world.

May the love and joy of Jesus flow through all us!

 

I have been going through each chapter of Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace. This recently published book is a contemporary look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic book,  The Cost of Discipleship. Chapter 25 is called: “Becoming Like Jesus in Our Faith.” The chapter begins with the following words by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“The same God who sees no sparrow fall to the ground without his knowledge and will, allows nothing to happen, except it be good and profitable for his children and the cause for which they stand.  We are in God’s hands.  Therefore, ‘Fear not.'”

There will be circumstances that will bring fear and uncertainty to us.  These are the times to develop our closeness with the Lord Jesus.  It is a time to trust him!  Walker states:

The emotion of fear is not a sign of unbelief, but to allow fear to shape and condition what you do is a sign of unbelief…There are two reasons why the disciples of Jesus need not fear:

  • First, we abide with Christ.
  • Second, our future is certain.

Fear will either reveal our faith or show the lack of our faith.  An Old Testament example of this is when the twelve spies were sent into the Promised Land in Numbers chapter 13.  When they returned, ten of them were fearful of going into the Promised Land because the inhabitants were too big and powerful.  Only Caleb and Joshua had the faith to believe that with God on their side, they could take the land.  Fear, in that case, should have strengthened the faith of all twelve spies.  Fear should also cause us to run to Jesus and trust that he will protect and guide us.

Since God is much bigger than any person or situation we face, we can have the freedom from what people think about us or do to us.  Even if they kill us, that is the best they can do.  Our fear should not be of people, but of God who “has the authority to decide where we will spend eternity.”  Bonhoeffer put it this way:

“Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men.  All preachers of the gospel will do well to recollect this saying daily.”

Fear has the ability to shape our agenda.  We can make choices based on fear rather than faith in Jesus.  I believe Walker hit the nail on the head when he wrote:

Our fears, then, terrorize us into chronic spiritual immaturity where we’re held hostage to our worries and doubts.  It keeps us from developing an intimate trust in Jesus and keeps us isolated.  Fear whispers in our ear that we face dangers alone, that God is unaware of our plight and that Jesus is unavailable in our time of need.  Worse, when fear suggests we are alone, it implies the Holy Spirit is no longer active in our lives.  And it is nothing short of heresy…

But God is taking care of us.  Everything, including the things we fear, are being worked together by God for our ultimate good.  Praise the Lord!  He wants us to fear us from our fears so that we can live lives of power and grace and spiritual fruit.  Freedom from fear will show the world that we are members of the Kingdom of God.  Walker wrote:

Jesus is not an important part of your life; he is your life.  His life envelops and saturates all that you are.  If you try to find your life apart from Jesus, you will lose it; but if you lose your life in Christ, then you will live an extraordinary life energized by the life of Christ within you.

An example of Fallen Thinking:

I fear what others may do, think, or say about me.

An example of Kingdom Thinking:

There is no need for me to be afraid because God is in control of this situation.

May we all live trusting fully the Lord Jesus!

Today, I want to review chapter 24 in Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace.

This book is a contemporary look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic book,  The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 24 is called: “Becoming Like Jesus Through Persecution.” Persecution is part of the game for the follower of Jesus.  Persecution is actually a badge of conformation for Christians that “the righteousness of Christ is flowing through us.”  As we follow Jesus, life will actually get harder.  Walker put it this:

To suggest that the Christian life is a gateway to problem-free, stress-free living is a sign of fallen thinking.  Our lives in Christ are meant to be extraordinary, incredible, meaningful, and purposeful but never trouble-free.  We’re to step into the will of God and stay there, trusting he has our best interests at heart, even though he tells us that circumstances seem so bad that we doubt his promises (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:13).  Rather than taking us out of the problems of life, making us appear amazing to others, he keeps us in the pressure-cooker so others can see how how a life connected to Jesus confronts problems in a very different way than a life disconnected from the divine nature.

If a Christian understands that God is in control of all circumstances, then that Christian can readily trust Him.  Christians know that they do not face the trials alone because the Lord Jesus is with them along the way.  The followers of Jesus are as sheep among wolves, and there will be trouble and persecution and danger.  Yet God still reigns and works in all things so that Christians can share the Good News of Jesus.  Though troubles abound, Christians are to trust God…

In other words, we must allow God to interpret the situations we face.  Only he is a capable of understanding all the facts and he sees the significance of every detail.

A New Testament example of this was all the sufferings and trials that the Apostle Paul went through in the Book of Acts.  They were part of god’s plan to get him to Rome so he share the gospel and write letters that are contained in the New Testament.  What happened to Paul illustrates how God always sees the bigger picture.

An example of Fallen Thinking:

I am being persecuted; God, what are you letting this happen to me?

Am example of Kingdom Thinking:

I am being persecuted; God that hurts, but I know you have my best in mind, I know you have a loving nature, and I know this is the result of the life of Christ flowing through me.  This is the cost of grace, but I also know this shows I will share in Christ’s inheritance.

Praise the Lord that he has our best intentions at heart!


Today, I want to review chapter 23 in Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace. This book is a contemporary look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic book,  The Cost of Discipleship. The name of chapter 23 is called: “Becoming Like Jesus in our Work.” Walker (and Bonhoeffer) wanted to remind us that our ministry should never replace our intimacy with Jesus.

Our service flows from Jesus through us to others and so our work, service, and ministry emerge from from our intimacy with Jesus.

Our work (ministry) is decided by Jesus, and thus, it is the work of Jesus in us.

We become living sacrifices, not by doing things for Jesus, but by becoming dependent of Jesus and doing the things he wants us to do.  In others words, following Jesus doesn’t mean we run off to do things for him; it means we right beside him and do the things he directs us to do.  As Henry Blackaby teaches in Experiencing God, we look for where God is at work and we join him there.  Jesus sets the agenda; Jesus set the timetable; and Jesus empowers hi work.

No Christian is to be a super-Christian who is to do everything. Jesus certainly doesn’t expect us to do it all.  There is nothing spectacular in trying to do things that Jesus does not want us to.  If we involve ourselves in “ministries” that Jesus doesn’t call us to, then we cannot expect him to provide strength and fruitfulness.  Walker writes:

The bottom line is this: Our ministry is defined by Jesus.  We do not minister for Jesus if we set the terms.  In the same way, our discipleship is defined by Jesus.  We cannot call ourselves disciples of Jesus if we set the terms of our discipleship.

Under the authorization and power of Jesus, we take the kingdom of God to the people and places that Jesus desires.  We, like Jesus, can take back the ground that Satan hold captive.  There is a great spiritual battle that every Christian must be involved in.  There are to be no, as Walker puts it, “spiritual pacifists.”  Jesus will equip and empower us for our ministry.  We bring nothing to the table…

…we are stealing from Jesus when we expect, or demand, special rights or privileges because we serve God.

This applies to both vocational and lay ministries.  We must “ruthless” in our love and commitment to Jesus.  All that matters is that Jesus gets all the praise and glory!  It is possible that we will never get praised or noticed,  but again, it is the glory of Jesus that we aim for.  Walker ended this chapter by rightly pointing out that not everyone will accept us or our ministry.

Rejection is a risk Jesus is willing to take on his mission for you and he calls us to face rejection in our service to him.

An example of Fallen Thinking:

I must figure out what I think needs to be done and then do it.

An example of Kingdom Thinking:

Jesus calls me to specific ministry in his name!

Amen!

It is called Dbon Hoeffer. But as far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the real Dietrich Bonhoeffer!

Give Thanks… Always?

By Trevin Wax on Nov 24, 2010

Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thess. 5:16-18)

Really, Paul? Give thanks in everything? No matter the circumstance?

Already, you’ve rocked my world. You’ve told me to rejoice always – not just when life is going well. That means that even though I’m tempted to rejoice only in the good times, you want me to rejoice in the bad times too.

You’ve told me to pray constantly – not just when life is going badly. Here, you’ve dealt with the opposite temptation. Even though I’m tempted to pray only in the bad times (when I sense I need something), you want me to pray constantly – in the good times too.

Paul, you’re calling me to a way of life that doesn’t depend on my circumstances. And what bugs me about this call is that you aren’t some idealistic pastor asking me to do the impossible. You are doing this yourself. You’re writing from a prison cell. Your happiest, sunniest letter (Philippians) is written when your circumstances are terrible.

And now, you’re telling us to give thanks in everything. But how? I want to be thankful, but come on… even for bad things? Even for trials?

For the rest of this helpful post…

Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace is a contemporary look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic book,  The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 22 is called: “Becoming Like Jesus Together.” Bonhoeffer wrote:

“No power in the world could have united these men for a common task, save the call of Jesus.  But that call transcended all their previous divisions, and established a new a steadfast fellowship in Jesus.”

Jesus made it clear that Christian maturity is impossible apart from Christian community.

The disciples of Jesus have one thing in common: Jesus!…When we answer the call of Christ, we cease to be strangers to all others who have answered his call.  It is Jesus who creates the church through the real and supernatural connection between himself and every believer.  The church, then, is a group of believers, all energized by the divine nature of Christ, working together to do what the Spirit tells them.

Through the power of Jesus in us, we can be involved in ministry in the fellowship of the local church.  When we enter God’s family, we are not subjects of His kingdom.  Thus, as Walker, points out:

We serve him, and we serve at his please.  We stay in tune with is will and we respond to the rhythms of his grace, mercy, and love.  But we are more then mere servants, Jesus declares us trustworthy friends, ready to hear what the Father is planning.

Each Christian lives in a community that is dependent upon Jesus through faith.  Faith in Jesus is crucial so the local church is much more than a social club.  As the bride of Christ, the church is supernaturally capable to change the world.  If the church loses focus on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, the result will be cheap grace.  Walker gives the following description of a twenty-first century “cheap grace” church:

This Christless church might even celebrate Jesus, but only as a bloodless everyman who shows us how to get along, how to help others, and how to live noble lives.  In the end, noble lives count for nothing.  We condemn ourselves to a faithless cycle, where we rationalize our good deeds, done independent of Jesus, as are good enough for God.

But Jesus will not allow us to change the rules of grace!

The Christian life is not about doing our best.  The good news is that all-powerful Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfect (which is impossible).  As we trust him, he will supply the grace for us to live for his honor and glory.  Since we are under God’s favor, he is working all around us and in us.  Christians are beautiful, flawed and redeemed.  Yet, we are examples of God’s wonderful grace to others around us.

In the community of faith, we can see others as Jesus would.

With the life of Christ flowing through us, we learn to love even the unlovable, and this is a unique characteristic of Christian community.  We can no longer remain independent of others if we want to grow in Christian maturity.

An example of Fallen Thinking:

My good deeds done independent of Jesus as as good enough for God.

Walker closes the chapter with the following:

Will I recognize the real and supernatural connection between myself and other believers, or will I remain independent of other believers?

As I have said over the years, there are no lone ranger Christians.

 

Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace is a contemporary and fresh look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 21 is called: “Becoming Like Jesus in His Compassion.” If we are to be like Jesus, then we are to serve and love like he did.  God poured the compassion of Jesus into our lives and therefore, we can be compassionate like him.  In the same way that Jesus was moved and filled with compassion towards people, we are to see others as sheep without a shepherd.  Walker writes:

The call of Jesus is not to an isolated ivory tower, where we discuss the meaning of life and try to figure out an intellectual or philosophical approach to to Christian ethics.  Jesus didn’t come to give answers; he is the answer.  He doesn’t talk about love; he shows us his love.  Jesus works up a sweat; he rolls up his sleeves, gets on his knees, and washes our feet with his blood, sweat, and tears.  He waded into the masses, touching them one-by-one.  They could look into his eyes, feel his warmth, smell his breath and hear him whisper, “You are healed.  I am with you know.”

In the same way, we as Christ’s servants, are to be givers rather takers.  As Jesus empties himself and took the form of a servant, we are to imitate him.  This possible through the power of the Holy Spirit living within us.  We can joyfully abandon ourselves to the cause of Jesus.

An example of Fallen Thinking:

My salvation is for my sake, not for the sake of others.

An example of Kingdom Thinking:

I must care about the things Jesus cares about!

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)

The title of chapter 20 of  Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace is “Becoming Like Jesus in Wisdom.” This chapter is based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s understanding of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-29 where Jesus warns his followers to make sure they hear the words Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and put them into practice.  It would be foolish and dangerous not to.  Bonhoeffer put it this way:

“We have listened to the Sermon on the Mount and perhaps have understood it.  But who who has heard it aright?  Jesus gives the answer at the end.  He does allow his hearers to go away and make of his sayings what they will, picking and choosing them whatever they find helpful, and testing them to see if they work.”

The main idea of this chapter is simple: We must know and do the Word of God and not just know it.  Jesus made it clear that we are to hear and obey!  Walker wrote:

The proof of our faith is in the doing!

That is the path to build our lives on the rock of Jesus.  The storms of life will rage against the house, but the house will not collapse.  There are no other options in life.

Jesus wants us shut down all the other options and bet it all on him.  And the thing is, there is no gamble because he stands on the promises he had made.  The issue is not with him, it is with us and our insistence that there must be other options in addition to obeying Jesus.

Thus, the Sermon on the Mount is not just to be admired.  It is to our best interests the follow it, word by word.  It is worth it, but we cannot compromise the demands of Jesus.  if we do, it is disobedience, plan and simple.  Yet, many Christians in twenty-first congregations are committed more to a cheap grace rather than a costly grace.  The was the same dilemma that Bonhoeffer faced in Germany back in the 1930’s.  That is why he wrote The Cost of Discipleship.

Walker’s contemporary look at Bonhoeffer’s classic book is helpful today because we are prone to water-down the Christian life.  Why depend on ourselves and live a cheap faith when we can have a radical, God-glorifying faith as Jesus lives in life in us?

An example of Fallen Thinking:

Stability and security in my life come from my own efforts.

An example of Kingdom Thinking:

Stability and security in my life come from my obedient trust in Jesus (Matthew 7:24)


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