“This is the end. For me the beginning of life.”
These are the last known words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, spoken on the way to the gallows to be hung by members of the S.S. Black Guard in April, 1945 in the Flossenburg concentration camp. He was executed because of his faith. He was not just a dedicated preacher and a prolific writer, but he lived his faith. He believed intensely in the community of the believers and that Christians must oppose evil. He defied the Nazi regime by baptizing Jews and he helping start the Confessing Church. His life gave life to his writings. As did his death.
I first read The Cost of Discipleship while in college. Much of this book centers on the Sermon on the Mount, but it is his section on grace that is so compelling. He confronts the notion of cheap grace, defined as preaching forgiveness without discipleship.
He insists that costly grace “… is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” This is a book I have read many times over by now. I still continue to gain new insights into what it means to live grace.
One last quote from this book:
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Quite a commentary on Luke 9:23, where Jesus said to follow him is to deny oneself and take up his cross. Or Galatians 2:20 where Paul writes that he has been crucified with Christ.
While you will not agree with everything Bonhoeffer writes, this book is definitely worth a read if you want to learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.