Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 6-8

1. On page 110, Bonhoeffer writes, “But Jesus says: ‘They shall inherit the earth.’  To these, the powerless and the disenfranchised the very earth belongs.  Those who possess it by violence and injustice shall lose it, and those who here have utterly renounced it, who were meek to the point of the cross shall rule the new earth.”  What it means is that when the kingdom of heaven descends, the face of the earth will be renewed, and it will belong to the flock of Jesus.  God does not forsake the earth; he made it, he sent his Son to it, and on it he built his Church.  Thus, a beginning has already been made in this present age.  A sign has been given.  The powerless have here and now received a plot of earth, for they have the Church and its fellowship, its good, its brothers and sisters, in the midst of persecutions even to the length of the cross. The renewal of the earth begins at Golgotha, where the meek One died, and from thence it will spread. When the kingdom finally comes the meek shall possess the earth.”

- How are we to understand the role & work of the “meek” today? 
- And when the kingdom of heaven descends?

2.  On pages 113-114, Bonhoeffer concludes, “Having reached the end of the beatitudes, we naturally ask if there is any place on this earth for the community which they describe.  Clearly, there is one place, and only one, and that is where the poorest, meekest, and most sorely tried of all men is to be found – on the cross at Golgotha.  The fellowship of the beatitudes is the fellowship of the Crucified.  With him it has lost all, and with him it has found all.  From the cross, there comes the call ‘Blessed, blessed.’”

- How does the cross of Christ speak to you, compel you, and ultimately transform you into its blessed fellowship of disciples?

3.  On pages 116-117, Bonhoeffer writes, “It is not for the disciples to decide whether they will be the salt of the earth, for they are so whether they like it or not, they have been made salt by the call they have received.”  “The call of Jesus makes the disciple community not only the salt but also the light of the world; their activity is visible, as well as imperceptible.”  “They are already the light, and the call has made them so.”  “Now they must be what they really are – otherwise they are not followers of Jesus.”  “Flight into the invisible is a denial of the call.”

- How has the call of Jesus changed you into salt & light?
- Where does your life demonstrate these functions?

4. “But there is nothing for us to glorify in the disciple who bears the cross, or in the community whose light so shines because it stands visible on the hill – only the Father which is in heaven can be praised for the ‘good works.’  It is by seeing the cross and the community beneath it that men come to believe in God.  But that is the light of the Resurrection.”

- To paraphrase: as the Church, we lift high the cross of Christ to the world.  
Through this, people “see” and come to faith…and stand renewed in the light of the Resurrection.  
- How does this profound statement shape the urgency & mission of the gospel?

5. On pages 112-123, Bonhoeffer writes, “Jesus vindicates the divine authority of the law.  God is its giver and its Lord, and only in personal communion with God is the law fulfilled.  There is no fulfilment of the law apart from communion with God, and no communion with God apart from fulfilment of the law.  To forget the first condition was the mistake of the Jews, and to forget the second the temptation of the disciples.”

- In all of this, what does God seek most from and with us?

6. In conclusion on page 125, “Again, it is not enough to teach the law of Christ, it must be done, otherwise it is no better than the old law.  In what follows, the disciples are told how to practice this righteousness of Christ.  In a word, it means following him.  It is the real and active faith in the righteousness of Christ.  It is the new law, the law of Christ.”

- Do, practice, follow…all directives from Jesus in the ways of true discipleship.  Where is the Holy Spirit leading you in these ways?

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