Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor, theologian, and resistor of the Nazi regime famously said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Bonhoeffer 1937, The Cost of Discipleship, pg. 89). It was on the morning of April 9, 1945, that Bonhoeffer would pay the ultimate price for the cause of Christ. After being banned from speaking on the radio, removed from the pulpit, and finally being arrested for his role in a plot to assassinate Hitler. He was sent to the concentration camp at Flossenburg and executed there just prior to being liberated by the allied forces. Bonhoeffer refused to bow down at the Nazi alter and chose to stand up for Christ and what was Biblically correct, even when it cost him his life. He serves as a valuable example that following Christ is not free or cheap.
Christianity has become so cheap that it means nothing to many who claim to belong to it, and it would be unrecognizable to the Apostles who sacrificed everything for its growth. The modern church sells this “free” experience that they label Christianity. To clarify, modern Christianity teaches that the experience is “free,” but you must pay tithes to receive from God. This ideology leads to the belief that when we give, God becomes indebted to us. God does not owe you anything. Afterall, “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22 NASB). Following Christ is not about money. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about faithfulness and obedience to Him regardless of what it costs. Following Christ is not free or cheap!
Modern Christianity has become all about our desires, needs, dreams, and likes. This is a cheap imitation of what following Christ is all about. Following Christ is not about me receiving more and more from Him and His church. Following Christ is about what I can give for Him and His church. Being a Christian is about serving others and giving all that I am and have for Him. The American church has become so business minded that consumerism has taken over. Consumerism should have no place in the church. It has led to division and competition. It has also led to selfish Christianity, which is no Christianity at all. Our Biblical example is that of sacrifice for the good of others (Acts 2:44-45), not of receiving all that our selfish heart’s desire.
We are exhorted in the epistle to the Hebrews to “hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14 NASB). Now, the stakes for the original recipients of Hebrews were much higher than they are for most Americans today, but the charge is the same. Christians must hold onto their faith in Christ, even if they are faced with death. The writer of Hebrews went onto say, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NASB). Christ is faithful and we do not need to worry about Him doing His part. To follow Christ means that we follow Him regardless. True followers of Christ do not get tired and give up. They do not get discouraged and walk away. They refuse to let go and they hold onto Christ in abundance or in famine. They hold on when things are going great or if they are facing execution. Christians “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Hebrews 10:23 NASB). Following Christ may cost you everything! Bonhoeffer argued that grace is not cheap and said, “It (grace) is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son...and what cost God much cannot be cheap for us” (Bonhoeffer 1937, The Cost of Discipleship, pg. 45). Pay the price, it will be worth it.
Pastor Josh May