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Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship

“God has used this book and Bonhoeffer to show what my life needs to be as a disciple of Christ. As a result of God’s call through this book I am committed to obey and follow (adhere to) Christ with single-eyed focus. I will obey before I worry about faith. I will do this in context of the visible believing community – which is Christ’s Body. I want the costly grace and not the cheap grace and I pray that God will call me to Him and I will follow. Michael Perry 11-21-1991”

As part of a seminary class I’m taking we’re reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship.

So I went to my bookcase to find the copy I read back in 1991 and as I opened it I discovered the above note I had written on the back cover.

The note reminded me of the impact this book had on me twenty years ago. As I have had the chance to re-read it I realized it continues to have a significant influence not just on my thinking and philosophy of ministry but more importantly on how I live.

Here are a couple of the questions I wrestled with after reading The Cost of Discipleship twenty years ago and am again challenged with as I re-read it.

First, Bonhoeffer’s concept of “costly Grace” verses “cheap grace” raises an important question that is relevant for us today. How do we share the Gospel with people without gutting it of the difficult parts? How do we tell the good news that we can’t earn our salvation and yet, to be a follower of Christ, will cost us a lot – maybe everything?

The second question is how do we assure we do not fall into the trap of believing that being a Christian is just simply making a decision (or multiple decisions) in a single moment in time instead of accepting that being a Christian means following Christ in every moment of time?

Both of these questions are as relevant (or more relevant) today than in the days Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship.

So if you are looking for a challenging, thought-provoking book about what it means to be a follower of Christ this classic maybe just the book. It’s not perfect but it will have you asking yourself questions like the ones I dealt with above.

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