Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 17

The Simplicity of the Carefree Life

This Chapter was incredible. I'm going to provide you with very little of my personal insight, I'll just let you dive into a few passages from the chapter.

We walk as pilgrims through the earth,
With empty hands, bereft and bare;
To gather wealth were little worth -
'Twould only burden life the more.

If men will go the way to death,
With them we will part company;
For God will give us all we need
To cover our necessity.


Something to chew on... Assuming Tersteegen has a valid point in his poem, how do we reconcile something like that with our western culture and how we live our lives?

Be not anxious! Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety. Yet all the time they are the very source of all anxiety. If our hearths are set on them, our reward is an anxiety whose burden in intolerable. Anxiety creates its own treasures and they in turn beget further care. When we seek for security in possessions we are trying to drive out care with care, and the net result is the precise opposite of our anticipations. The fetters which bind us to our possessions prove to be cares themselves. [...] The only way to win assurance is by leaving tomorrow entirely in the hands of God and by receiving from him all we need for today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 16

The Hiddenness of the Devout Life

[...] We want other people to see our achievements and to be put to shame. Our asceticism has now become the way to salvation. Such publicity gives it the reward it seeks.

Here Bonhoeffer is talking about living your life without seeking recognition for your actions. It is a hard concept to follow, if I do a good deed I naturally want everyone around me to recognize that fact and to celebrate my action. However, Christ has called us to make those good deeds a part of our everyday life, to the point where we are not looking for any sort of glory, but rather attribute all good to the power of Christ working through us.

I encourage you to continue your good deeds, however continue them without seeking recognition for your actions. Like all most related to following Jesus, easier said than done.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 15

The Hiddenness of Prayer

If God were ignorant of our needs, we should have to think out beforehand how we should tell him about them, what we should tell him, and whether we should tell him or not. Thus faith, which is the mainspring of Christian prayer, excludes all reflection and premeditation.

Have you ever hesitated in sharing something for the fear that someone's opinion of you will change based on what you share? How often does this happen? I would hazard to guess it happens more often than we would imagine, however, the point of Bonhoeffer in this excerpt is that this fear should never be felt when communicating with God. The reason being; God already knows what you are going to say.

Strange... Weird... Absurd even. Yet miraculously beautiful in the same sense.

The chapter continues and draws reference to how prayer is an integral part in the life of a follower of Christ. To shy away from communication with God and yet claim to be his follower would be akin to claiming to love your wife yet paying her no attention. It doesn't work.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nefarious 1: Merchant of Souls

Today's post will not be about the Cost of Discipleship... But rather a documentary called Nefarious 1: Merchant of Souls. Start by watching this video...

It's like your ordering a pizza.

Is there not something seriously wrong with this?

I believe that a perfect world is impossible, the evil present in our world is simply too vast to ever be completely suppressed. However, as followers of Christ we are obliged to shine His light wherever we go. To advocate for the justice of the widow, orphan and those who are generally oppressed. If we are truly followers of Christ allowing something such as sex trafficking to go unnoticed would be a shame and direct disobedience of Christ's teachings.

I'm going to do some digging and in a future post I'll give you an established organization which concerns itself with sex trafficking that you can get in contact with, if you so desire.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 14

The Hidden Righteousness

The better righteousness of the disciples must have a motive which lies beyond itself. Of course it has to be visible, but they must take care that it does not become visible simply for the sake of becoming visible. There are of course proper grounds for insisting on the visible nature of Christian discipleship, but the visibility is never an end in itself, and if it becomes so we have lost sight of our primary aim, which is to follow Jesus.

The genuine work of love is always a hidden work. Take heed therefore that you know it not, for only so is it the goodness of God. If we want to know our own goodness or even of our love for our enemies. This voluntary blindness in the Christian (which is really sight illuminated by Christ) is his certainty, and the fact that his life is hidden from his sight is the ground of assurance.

How difficult is it for us to do some sort of good deed and to purposefully go unnoticed for it?It's as if the fact that the good deed was done is attention enough. I find this aspect of Christ's teaching truly fascinating. The concept of "it's not about me" is a hard one for me to swallow, however shifting my focus to "it's all about you" is something that seems illogical, yet awesome in the same breath.

This book is seriously amazing, I am learning something new everyday. You should probably buy it, read it and love it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 13

The Enemy - the "Extraordinary"

The Christian must treat his enemy as a brother, and requite his hostility with love. His behaviour must be determined not by the way otters treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus; it has only one sour, and the is the will of Jesus. [... the page over] As brother stands by brother in distress, binding up his wounds and soothing his pain, so let us show our love toward our enemy. There is no deeper distress to be found in the world, no pain more bitter than our enemy's. Nowhere is service more necessary or more blessed than when we serve our enemies. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Uhh, did you just read that?

Now try to tell me that "loving your enemy" doesn't go against everything your mind tells you is just and fair... You can't. The teaching of Jesus is revolutionary, He asks us to go completely against our human nature, to LOVE OUR ENEMIES.

As I am writing this I am drawn back to a conversation I had with a group of friends over the controversy of being able to 'love' someone and not 'like' them. I was one of the first ones within the group to say that 'love' is possible without 'like', however, as I now look at the extreme's that Jesus speaks of I am wondering whether my original position can be supported.

Would not the overwhelming sense of love automatically encapsulate the definition of 'like' within itself? Man, I think I may be getting ahead of myself. This is something that I'll have to do some pondering and studying about.

Until then, peace.