Third-rate Ethics, Fourth-rate Work

From North’s Leadership and Discipleship, Part 8:
Masters Lead, Journeymen Follow

The Costs of Discipleship

I read Bonhoeffer’s book, The Costs of Discipleship, thirty years ago, and all I remember is that he distinguished cheap grace from free grace. On this point, I agree with him. Free grace is what Jesus Christ personally paid for before He distributed it to His people. He paid a very high price. Cheap grace is that perversion of the doctrine of free grace which says that we need not seek to repay God because we cannot repay Him. But Christ calls us to be perfect, even as His Father in heaven is perfect. We are to strive for perfection even though we cannot achieve it in history. We do not have to achieve it, since Christ achieved it for us. The fact that He achieved it for us is supposed to be our motivation to strive to achieve perfection, not a warrant for third-rate ethics and fourth-rate work.

There is a high cost of discipleship, which Jesus paid. His performance is to be our model. We are to gain such mastery of our jobs and our callings – areas of unique service, usually not paid for by the market — that our work testifies to the reality we proclaim, namely, that Jesus is the answer, for He is the Incarnate Word. We have a written Word to direct us, and the Holy Spirit to guide us. Our self-discipline — our discipleship — never ends.

Victory for Christians is possible… at a price.

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