Recently, while re-reading "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which is no doubt a classic in Christian literature, I was struck by something the Bonhoeffer wrote. Don't misunderstand me, I was moved and challenged by many things he said, but this one stood out for some reason.
Without question, Bonhoeffer was transformed by the thought that Christ had forgiven him of his sins. He was also haunted by the thought that if Christ did this for him, to accept this forgiveness meant that he had to totally forfeit anything that might be considered something he could bring to the table, and give his entire commitment to following Christ.
This meant for Bonhoeffer that following Christ in this way was not just for the "holy" few, but for anyone that made the decision to accept Christ and follow him. Here's the paragraph that drove this truth home to me. It was born out of Bonhoeffer's own pilgrimage into the monastic experience.
Monasticism was represented as an individual achievement which the mass of the laity could not be expected to emulate. By thus limiting the application of the commandments of Jesus to a restricted group of specialists, the Church evolved the fatal conception of the double standard-a maximum and a minimum standard of Christian obedience.
As a result of this, I began to think about the way we go about pursuing discipleship in the context of the church. It's almost as if we present it as something that only a few can achieve or even pursue. The reality is that every believer must obey the call of Christ to follow him. It is not just a mental assent to his call but an all-out commitment and pursuit of Jesus Christ.
In Bonhoeffer's own words we hear, "Only he who believes is obedient and only he who is obedient believes." This is a powerful screen for those who claim that they are saved and have accepted the call of Christ upon their lives. This means that every believer must be obedient to Christ's call for them to follow him in a fully devoted life of discipleship.
I wonder, what would the church of today look like if we followed the simple truth set forth by Bohoeffer? Are you following it? If you believe, are you obedient? If you believe, truly believe, then according to this you are one who believes. I am wondering, what do you think?