Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship, is widely considered a classic on the subject of faithful Christian living. The author’s reputation as one who stood according to his principles against monstrous evil, to the point of death, adds an immeasurable degree of gravitas to the work.
Those who read about Christian discipleship will immediately recognize this post’s title. This is not an accident. The subject of Thomas Brooks’ second device demands the connection.
“The second device that Satan has to draw the soul from holy duties, and to keep them off from religious services, is, By presenting to them the danger, the losses, and the sufferings which attend the performance of such and such religious services.”
For perspective, I asked several friends to provide their thoughts on how The Cost of Discipleship has influenced and shaped them personally. Here are just a few of their contributions.
“We live in the most eroticized and distracted age ever known to humanity. Right now we could easily empty our Christian bookstores of all their wares and stock about 20 good books on following Christ. This book would be one of them.” Christopher MacDonald
“This book was eye-opening for me as a young adult, weaving together the ancient problems of sin and humanity with the example of Nazi Germany, and awakening me to the same dangers in American culture and everywhere else … Even if it costs me my reputation, freedom, or life. It’s a tough challenge knowing that any feeling, preference, idea, or idol I entertain which stands contrary to scripture must be put to death. And it’s a weighty reality that rejecting the idols of our society could cost me my life. But Bonhoeffer’s words and his own martyrdom prove that it’s a joy to do so in response to Christ’s grace.” Bucky Elliott, International Commission
“Few things have impacted me more than Bonhoeffer’s concept of cheap grace as grace without discipleship and grace without the cross. There is no human side to grace; it’s all of God. But there is a human response to grace. When God’s people fail to live through the grace of God, fail to follow the disciple’s path–the way of the cross–then grace is cheapened. It’s cheapened because we don’t recognize the eternal value of God’s grace in Christ at the cross or reduce discipleship to a series of check-boxes rather than communion with and obedience to the God from whom all grace flows.” Marty Duren, The Uncommontary Podcast
I don’t believe I should add much in the way of explanation for fear of diminishing the impact of my friends’ wonderful insights. I’ll simply direct us forward into Thomas Brooks’ remedies against Satan’s attempts to discourage us from devotion to Christ.
What do we do when tempted to avoid fellowship, discipleship, and the blessed means of grace due to fear of loss, pain, and suffering?