Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 16-18

1. On page 170, “The real difference in the believer who follows Christ and has mortified his will and died after the old man in Christ, is that he is more clearly aware than other men of the rebelliousness and perennial pride of the flesh, he is conscious of his sloth and self-indulgence and knows that his arrogance must be eradicated.  Hence there is a need for daily self-discipline.”

- Where do you seek to practice daily self-discipline?

2. On page 171, “When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the Spirit with every available weapon against the flesh. How is it possible to live the life of faith when we grow weary of prayer, when we lose our taste for reading the Bible, when sleep, food & sensuality deprive us of the joy of communion with God?”

-  Answer Bonhoeffer’s question here for yourself…

3. On page 175, “But where are we to draw the line between legitimate use and unlawful accumulation?  Our treasure may, of course, be small and inconspicuous, but its size is immaterial; it all depends on the heart, on ourselves.  And if we ask how we are to know where our hearts are, the answer is just as simple – everything which hinders us from loving God above all things and acts as a barrier between ourselves and our obedience to Jesus is our treasure, and the place where our heart is.”

- What do you truly treasure in your life, day to day?

4. On page 178, “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 hearts are set on them, our reward is an anxiety whose burden is 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.  If instead of receiving God’s gifts for today we worry about tomorrow, we find ourselves helpless victims of infinite anxiety.”

- Does this statement make you anxious? (Just kidding!)  So, what does?

5. On page 181, “After he has been following Christ for a long time, the disciple of Jesus will be asked, ‘Lacked ye anything?’ and he will answer, ‘Nothing, Lord.’  How could he, when he knows that despite hunger/nakedness, persecution/danger, the Lord is always at his side?”

- How does this example bring you genuine comfort and peace?

6. On page 183, “It is not an approved standard of righteous living that separates a follower of Christ from an unbeliever, but it is Christ who stands between them.  Christians always see other men as brethren to whom Christ comes; they meet them only by going to them with Jesus.  Disciple and non-disciple can never encounter each other as free men, directly exchanging their views and judging one another by objective criteria.  No, the disciple can meet the non-disciple only as a man to whom Jesus comes.  Here alone, Christ’s fight for the soul of the unbeliever, his call, his love, his grace and his judgment comes into its own.  Discipleship does not afford us a point of vantage from which to attack others; we come to them with an unconditional offer of fellowship, with the single-mindedness of the love of Jesus.”

- How does this speak to God’s truth, and why do we at times resist it?

7. On page 186, “Every attempt to impose the gospel by force, to run after people and proselytize them, to use our own resources to arrange the salvation of other people, is both futile and dangerous.  Our easy trafficking with the word of cheap grace simply bores the world to disgust, so that in the end it turns against those who try to force on it what it does not want.”

- Where have you witnessed or experienced this reality?

8. On page 187, “The difference between the disciples’ seeking and the Gentiles’ quest for God is that the disciples know what they are looking for.  We can only seek God when we know him already.  How can you look for something or find it if you do not know what you are looking for?  The disciples seek a God whom they have found in the promise they have received from Jesus.  Hence-forth, the disciple will look upon other men as forgiven sinners who owe their lives to the love of God.  ‘This is the law and the prophets’ – for this is none other than the supreme commandment: to love God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves.”

- What you are looking for and how is Jesus fulfilling his promise to you? 

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