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.