Monday, August 21, 2006


Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his, The Cost of Discipleship, points out to us how it's all about obedience, in becoming and in being a follower of our Lord. And a radical obedience. He takes passages such as Jesus' dealing with the rich young ruler, and points out how they are often watered down to mean something less than our Lord meant. With the danger that they miss the faith that was to be found, in responding to the call of Jesus in the command.

Those passages can be understood in a metaphorical way that meets those whose lives are already set on pilgrimmage with Christ. After all, we know the crux of the matter is not money, how much one has or doesn't have. But the crucial matter is where one's heart is. Is it in worshiping and serving God? Or in idolatry? As Bobby Dylan sang, we do indeed, "gotta serve somebody". There are no acceptable grays here.

We do have to seek to stay in the path of radical obedience to Christ. Just because we start out with him, doesn't mean now we're free to not take his commands seriously. After we put our hand to the plow of the kingdom of God, we must refuse to look back. And when we do falter, to confess and receive forgiveness, then continue on with our Lord.

Jesus, Let us not lean on our own understanding. But submit to you in obedience, in all of life. Knowing that you are there with us, to keep us on the straight and narrow to the end. To your glory. Amen.


Ted Gossard said...

This hit me. We so often complicate the Christian life, both as to its beginning, and throughout. But it boils down to obedience. This is a point I gathered from Bonhoeffer in my reading of one part of the book.

Of course Bonhoeffer is not talking about sinless pefection. Nor was he without his struggles and sense of lostness through his long ordeal. But through it all: in word, act and life, Bonhoeffer spoke not only to his nation, time and generation, but to us all.

These posts include my own take, and impression of the impact these words had on me.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Good post. Grace may be free but it is not cheap.

Ted Gossard said...

Bonhoeffer's words on cheap grace are illuminating and most challenging. It caused me to take a kind of hard look at myself and my own life.

Anonymous said...

I was reading the commentary by Cranfield on Romans and was struck though that the word used by paul translated commonly to submit is reciprocal, however.

Our human relationships shd be reciprocal.

As I understand it, the young ruler is not about whether owning wealth is bad or not, but that it can be a serious hindrance to following Jesus.


Ted Gossard said...

The point Bonhoeffer was making on obedience is that one either answered the Lord's call, and followed in obedience, or they were left behind with their excuses and idols. There is nothing in between.

So hupotasso, I would take here to be reciprocal in the sense of response in following Christ's call in obedience. According to the dictionary in my Greek New Testament (Barclay M. Newman, Jr.), it means "put in subjection, subject, subordinate; pass. be subject, submit to, obey, be under the authority of; take a subordinate place".

Anonymous said...

You're right.

Obey as you used it isn't about Romans 13.