Costly Grace…

I’ve just re-read the first chapter of Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. I had to go back to it again because I found it really difficult to get my mind onto the level that reading this guy’s stuff requires. It’s made me stop and think about this whole grace thing. About where we draw the line and move from our proclamation of grace for all and start to tell people about what the cost will be.

In my mind I think that I’ve drawn the line too easily between not being judgmental about other people, about respecting their right not to choose God, and the calling that seems to be on our life as Christians to tell the world about God. About what it really means when we talk about following Christ. Thing is, it’s so easy to say that we can’t do the one alongside the other – we can’t simultaneously shower ‘not strings attached’ grace on those around us without prophetically witnessing the truth that, as Andrew Clark says “it’s Jesus or hell”. But I’m convinced we can and we must.

So how do we do it? I remember somewhere in my reading picking up thing about ‘tell the world about Christ, using words if you must’. Reclaiming ‘love’ from the dirty commodity for pleasure the world has turned it into. I guess that’s why I identify with the ALOVE thing. Once we’ve shown the love God has shown us to those he brings us into contact with, we get the chance to start to point out what God has to say about life. Assuming, of course, that God hasn’t already started to make it clear to that person in the first place!

Coming back round to the whole costly grace thing – about obedience tied into grace, of cost to us as well as cost to Christ. Perhaps the secret is that the cost to us is that things aren’t always clear cut. That we’d love to be able to tell people exactly what they should be doing with their life, exactly where they’re going to end up. When instead, we have to take more of our precious time to invest in people’s lives, loving them simply because they’re human beings, not pew fodder. When we have to take the threat of pain of rejection alongside the joy of seeing someone ‘saved’. That, whatever we say or do, whatever threats we make about someone’s eternal destination, it’s not up to us. Nah, I think God is way ahead of us on this one…


6 thoughts on “

  1. Some really good thoughts Martin, from experience showing God’s love to people speaks more than many words. People dont want to hear what we have to say until they know that we trully care. I have over the past few years journeyed with people that have been rejected by most of the world and the thing they could get was that I and other members of our Corps stayed and loved them no matter what. They then saw that there was another way of life and the Holy Spirit did the rest of the work, I dont remember telling anyone it is Jesus or Hell or preaching in judgemental tones has never had a look in. It is as you say more costly of time. People soon realise if you are genuine or not, they really search for this and if we are not then who else have they got. I get frustrated however, that some of our long standing soldiers havent got the unconditional love thing, however I beleive we are raising a new generation who do… All I can do is ensure that my children have got it…


  2. Tomlin makes the point that there is no point throwing answers at people when they are not asking the questions, it is about provoking the questions.

    Martin – mother, eggs and suck time – there’s nothing more provocative than grace. Tomlin also says there must be a time to proclaim. Could it be that ‘Grace centred mission’ isn’t mission without the proclamation in that it just becomes a nice thing!

    Could it be that it’s about taking the opportunity when the green light comes on. It’s about perhaps putting the blanket bombing approach of the guy I blogged about yesterday – and trying a bit of precision stuff?

    I don’t know?

    Anyway great thoughts – roll on more!!

  3. Its Jesus or hell…the extent to which we us that line when sharing the gospel with people is very much dependant on the situation,person, and of course the way the Holy Spirit is leading the relationship.

    But of course, 75% of the time it might be innefective, but more crucial is that concept in the mind of the Christian. The fact that it is Jesus or hell gets me up in the morning but of course grace, love and mercy (and challenge) are ministered to the life of people as well as a lot of praying that says “God, please would your Holy Spirit bring conviction of sin to the persons life”…a necessary and biblical prayer to pray.

    Grace, love and mercy are more abundantly displayed in a life that shows and accepts that it readily needs it. A Jesus or hell understanding does not rule out grace, in fact, it is reliant on grace.

    Catherine Booth had this to say on the matter: “Oh, people say, you must be very careful, very judicious. You must not thrust religion down people’s throats. Then I say you will never get it do. What! Am I to wait until the unconverted, godless man wants to be saved before I try to save him? He will never want to be saved till the death-rattle is in his throat” (C Booth, Papers on Aggressive Christianity, p 13)

    The gospel can be a stumbling block even to us, but to give Catherine the last word…”While we have been standing upon our dignity, whole generations have gone to hell”

    yours in Jesus

  4. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

    “Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11)

    “If we are out of ur mind, it is for God’s sake…Christ’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:13, 14)

    “We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled with God” (2 Corintians 5:21)

    Paul was quite into proclamation.

  5. oh no – Andrew is blog stalking me…!? honestly I do like it when people get saved!!

    let’s do each other a favour and take a covenant to never allow a false dichotomy to develop within the mission we have been called to!!

    Martin little tip with Bonheffer – read Catch – 22 first – it makes it a breeze!!

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