“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
Over the years, many people have come to the Christian faith because they are looking for comfort and convenience. They misinterpret the notion of God’s grace, wrongly believing that it means Christianity offers salvation and doesn’t demand much in return. This perspective is seriously flawed and spiritually dangerous.
As I mentioned last week, the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave a name to it; he called it “cheap grace.” In 1937 Bonhoeffer authored a powerfully insightful book—The Cost of Discipleship—that challenged the churches of Europe and North America. He recognized that the churches of the West were drifting into comfortable Christianity fueled by a distorted understanding of grace.
Bonhoeffer warns against Christianity that professes faith but does not practice the faith. He warns against a Christianity that cheapens what God has done—and is doing—in Christ. Here is how Bonhoeffer describes costly grace:
“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and it is grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son … and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”
That last statement has echoed in my heart since I first read it in 1973 as a new Christian at UCLA. “What has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” Bonhoeffer’s point is that while God’s grace may be free, it isn’t cheap. In truth, it is immensely costly. For God to make His grace available to you cost Him the life of His Son. For you to accept God’s grace will cost you yours.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9.24-25)