The Cost of Discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24 NKJV)

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes,”

A tightrope walker once would take a wheel barrel across the wire on his high-air act. Once before he got on the wire, he stopped and spoke to the crowd below. He asked them if they believed he could walk across the wire with the wheel barrel. Most responded in the affirmative because they had heard of his reputation. The tightrope walker points to a man below who enthusiastically affirms he can do it and says, “If you believe you can come up here and get in the barrel, let me wheel you across the wire. The man stays still with his feet planted on the ground. If the man had really believed, he would have gotten in the wheel barrel.

Salvation is free, but discipleship is always costly. Works can never save us, but saved people do works. In James 2:17-18 NKJV, it says, Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James is not saying that works cause your salvation but result from your redemption.

The key trait of a disciple of Christ is obedience. It’s not something God does for us but something we actively choose to do. We are not passive recipients of God’s grace but active participants in working out our salvation. Following Christ always involves cross-bearing. The Cross of Christ involved rejection and shame, and so will yours. “Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.”

Image used with permission from Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing and Broken Vessels through Kindle Direct Publishing.

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