Costly Grace

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”


That statement opens the introduction to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic work, “The Cost of Discipleship.” For Bonhoeffer, the “cost” of being a disciple of Jesus Christ was fatal – at least in earthly terms. On April 9, 1945, he was executed by Hitler’s Secret Service Black Guard.

Bonhoeffer believed in an all-or-nothing approach to his faith in Christ. There was room neither for negotiation with the enemy, nor compromise. He had a degree of faith found more in the book of Acts than in the typical North American, modern church culture which he described as “cheap grace” i.e. “grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

On the other hand, his life, far more than his words, exemplified “costly grace.” “Such grace,” wrote Bonhoeffer, “is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

Like Isaiah, when God called Bonheoffer’s name, Bonhoeffer replied, “Here am I. Send me.” That sort of conviction reminds me of an actual phone conversation i read about recently. An individual who wanted to travel the world and tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ called a mission organization that helps Christians fulfill the “assignment” they believe God has given them. Here’s the transcript:

JS: “Hello, God is calling me to the nations, what can I do to help?”
Mission Board: “Well, have you thought about where God is calling you to go?”
JS: “I don’t know, I figured you would tell me…”
Mission Board: “No, we let you chose.”
JS: “Well, then send me as close to Hell as possible without catching on fire.”

Whether our “mission field” is the other side of our globe or right in our home neighborhood, may God stir up in us the same passion present in Bonhoeffer, and the individual making that phone call. May satan be trembling with terror that we would give God freedom to move in this very way.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

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