Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s work the “Cost of Discipleship” was the most significant book I read in the decade of my twenties. It was a book given to me from a pastor in Alton, Iowa who was retiring and dispersing his library. Bonhoeffer’s reflections on what it means to follow Jesus changed my life. It was the first time I came to realize the meaning of God’s grace. After reading the book I was motivated to become a serious student seeking to bring all of my life under the Lordship of Christ. I came to understand in the economy of God their was “no cheap grace.” Bonhoeffer taught me that grace was costly. Consequently Christ in grace continually invites us to give our entire life in service of him as we respond in love for being so generously loved by God.
Eric Metaxas’ work “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” is well worth a place on your summer reading list. Chad Lewis, a friend of mine, recently sent along to me a quote from Metaxas’ book that summaries Bonhoeffer’s life. I have returned to these words numerous times in recent months as I reflect on what is it means to be a follower of Jesus. Here is how Metaxas summaries Bonhoeffer’s Christian life.
“He had theologically redefined the Christian life as something active, not reactive. It had nothing to do with avoiding sin or with merely talking or teaching or believing theological notions or principles or rules or tenets. . . . It was God’s call to be fully human, to live as human beings obedient to the one who had made us, which was the fulfillment of our destiny. It was not a cramped, compromised, circumspect life, but a life lived in a kind of wild, joyful, full-throated freedom that was what it was to obey God.”
How we imagine what it means to follow Jesus eventually becomes HOW we follow him. Bonhoeffer imagined a way in following that was about becoming fully human, “a kind of wild, joyful, full-throated freedom.” Perhaps Metaxas’ summary of Bonhoeffer’s manner of loving God and living as a child of God can help us all imagine a way of being with Jesus as Jesus hopes we would!