3. REDUCING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

3. REDUCING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Many have reduced the Christian life to benefits we get from Jesus, rather than living as students of Jesus. Ogden writes, “A disciple is one who, in the context of community, places himself or herself under the shaping influence of Jesus so that there is no doubt as to who is deploying the formative power. This life entails ‘sitting at the feet of Jesus.’ Instead we want ‘abundance without obedience.’”
The bumper sticker “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven,” reduces the Christian life to simply receiving forgiveness says Dallas Willard. As Christians we see grace as the very act that leads to our salvation. This act of grace is expressed in its fullness at the cross of Jesus. At the cross, Jesus took away our place and died our death hence we are saved from the punishment that our sin deserved. In sum, grace is a passive act that requires no action on our part. When we hear the word Discipleship we assume something that is done by us. So the question is how do these two very different concepts fit together in a believer’s life?
In his attempt to bring a balance between these two realities in the life of a Christian, Dietrich Bonheoffer talks about costly grace versus cheap grace. He writes, Grace is represented as the church’s in exhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of us using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap? Bonheoffer concludes that cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the incarnation of the Word of God.1
The poor result in our discipleship comes from our focus on the benefits we get from Jesus. –see “Divine Conspiracy” (P.40)
“The most telling thing about the contemporary Christian is that he/she simply has no compelling sense that understanding of and conformity with the clear teachings of Christ is of any vital importance to his or her life, and certainly not that is in any way essential.” How else do we account for the disjunction between professed faith and the quality of discipleship? There must be something fundamentally wrong with the way we have been teaching what it means to be a Christian. The answer is that we have not called people into an apprentice relationship with Jesus. Jesus is not looked to as our discipler, teacher and lord. We do not see him as our trainer in life. “We have disconnected the Christian life from the one who called us to follow him. Instead we have taken the benefits of forgiveness with a positively altered state of inner peace and equated the Christian life with being a decent person.” Reflect on this point.

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