I couldn’t resist the nudge to pick up this book yesterday. Being someone who wants to communicate the “grace” of God in the Gospel, I realize it’s a delicate task to share the demands of genuine discipleship without turning it into some form of “legalism”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (for another good site check out Bonhoeffer’s Cell) has always been one model of just doing it so beautifully. His other book Life Together really turned my understanding of Christian community upside down and inside out … for the better.
Here’s some stuff from the preface in the revised and updated version of the book on “discipleship” that’s touched me thus far:
” … It is not ultimately important to us what this or that church leader wants. Rather, we want to know what Jesus wants.
… It is not as if our church’s preaching were no longer God’s word, but there are so many dissonant sounds, so many human, harsh laws, and so many false hopes and consolations, which still obscure the pure word of Jesus and makes a genuine decision more difficult.” (p. 37)
“When holy scripture speaks of following Jesus; it proclaims that people are free from all human rules, from everything which pressures, burdens, or causes worry and torment of conscience. In following Jesus, people are released from the hard yoke of their own laws to be under the gentle yoke of Jesus Christ. Does this disparage the seriousness of Jesus’ commandments? No. Instead, only where Jesus’ entire commandment and the call of to unlimited discipleship remain intact are persons fully free to enter into Jesus’ community. Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistence, will find the burdens they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure 0f this yoke they will receive strength to walk the right path without becoming weary. Jesus commandment is harsh, inhumanly harsh for someone who resists. Jesus’ commandment is gentle and not difficult for someone who willingly accepts it. “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3) Jesus commandment has nothing to do with forced spiritual cures. Jesus demands nothing from us without giving us the strength to comply. Jesus’ commandment never wishes to destroy life, but rather to preserve, strengthen and heal life.” (p. 39)
“Where will the call of discipleship lead those who follow? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us to follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.” (p. 40)