Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 13-15

1. On page 147, Bonhoeffer writes, “The will of God, to which the law gives expression, is that men should defeat their enemies by loving them.”  His behavior must be determined not by the way others treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus; it has only one source, and that is the will of Jesus.”

- How does God’s will and God’s love defeat our enemies?

2. “How then does love conquer?  By asking not how the enemy treats her, but only how Jesus treated her.  The love for our enemies takes us along the way of the cross and into fellowship with the Crucified.  The more we are driven along this road, the more certain is the victory of love over the enemy’s hatred.  For then it is not the disciple’s own love, but the love of Jesus Christ alone, who for the sake of his enemies went to the cross and prayed for them as he hung there.”

-  How is it possible to love others as Jesus loved us on the cross?

3. On page 159, “All that the follower of Jesus has to do is to make sure that his obedience, following and love are entirely spontaneous and unpremeditated.  Christ’s virtue, the virtue of discipleship, can only be accomplished so long as you are entirely unconscious of what you are doing.  The genuine work of love is always a hidden work.”

- Give examples of such spontaneity and hidden love.

4. On page 163, “Only through Jesus Christ can we find the Father in prayer.  Christian prayer presupposes faith, that is, adherence to Christ.  He is the one and only Mediator of our prayers.  We pray at his command, and to that word Christian prayer is always bound.”

- Why is Jesus the dominant focus of our praying?

5. “It matters little what form of prayer we adopt or how many words we use.  What matters is the faith which lays hold on God and touches the heart of the Father who knew us long before we came to him.”

- How does this description of prayer compare with yours?

6. “Prayer does not aim at any direct effect on the world; it is addressed to God alone, and is therefore the perfect example of undemonstrative action.”

- Why is prayer relation-centered?  Why is it not about outcomes?

7. “Not being content to wait for God to answer our prayer and show us in his own time that he has heard us, we provide our own answer.  We take note that we have prayed suitably well, and this substitutes the satisfaction of answered prayer.  We have our reward.  Since we have heard ourselves, God will not hear us.  Having contrived our own reward of publicity, we cannot expect God to reward us any further.”

- Can you think of a time when this played out for you?

8. “True prayer does not depend either on the individual or the whole body of the faithful, but solely upon the knowledge that our heavenly Father knows our needs.  That makes God the sole object of our prayers, and frees us from a false confidence in our own prayerful efforts.”

- How does complete trust in God’s love transform our praying?

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