Our salvation is too costly to trivialize. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was one of the founding members of the Confessing Church started in Germany in opposition to the culturally compromised state church that supported the rise of Hitler. Helmut Thielicke was a contemporary of Bonheoffer and fellow member of the Confessing Church. Thielicke used the device he called the Borderline Situation to expose all the weaknesses and questions hidden by an idea or cultural situation. Being a Confessing Christian in the midst of Nazi Germany was certainly borderline situation in which Bonhoefferâ€™s faith and theology were tested to the extreme.Â The experience focused his thinking on the Christian life which he expresssed in his book, Cost of Discipleship. These were no armchair observations.He wrote from the deep dungeon of oppression and suffering.Â Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging at FlossenbÃ¼rg concentration camp on April 9, 1945 shortly before its liberation.
Whether or not you agree with a martyrâ€™s theology, you have to hold them in great respect for giving their life for the Gospel. God himself prizes those who die for the faith. When Bonheoffer wrote about the nature of grace, he wrote as one who had been refined by the fires of Hitlerâ€™s hell. Certainly we should hear him in our generation and be deeply moved. And perhaps we should be reminded that in any generation, we can cheapen our faith by our own behavior or we can be persecuted by others. It is good to hear again what he had to say.
Our salvation is costly, it is costly grace. costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go an sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price for which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Such grace is costly is because it calls us to follow and is grace because it causes 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: ” ye were bought with a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.” (Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, 47-48)