“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
― Deitrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — (NKJV)
It is no longer easy to be a Christian in the Western World. For most of our lifetime it has been easy to ‘come to Christ’, proclaim ourselves as Christian and to go to church on a Sunday and for the really devout to go midweek as well. We may have been challenged by the Gospel and made a genuine repentance and commitment to Jesus, but then it has been so easy to drift into a Christian who is no different than our friends and neighbours around us, reading the bible but not taking in the depth of the truth and the personal and ongoing cost to ourselves?
Covid has changed all that as we are threatened by a killer virus and the governments of the world have stepped in and taken the opportunity to exercise control over their people, the UK included. Not only is the nation fragmented over this but also the church with so many differing views over what should be done in the circumstances, one of course is that we should be caring and tolerant of each other, but then when does caring become stupidity and when does tolerance become compromise? In the past we could always put these things ‘on the back burner’ by which time the decision was made for us, but now we are in the same position as the persecuted church. We do need to make decisions and that means going back to our bibles and really understand what it is saying to us. The Sermon on the Mount is a lovely read, but take it on board and it is a challenge to us all.
This is what has happened in Edmonton Alberta, where Pastor Coates has been jailed for allowing more than 15% of the congregation to attend (see below) after assessing where the state was overstepping their God given right and decided on the course he took. Not everyone agrees, but that is the difficulty as our decisions are made on our life experiences and what we feel God is telling us to do at this particular time and sloppy bible study and sermon listening will make this even more difficult. Pray for Pastors and congregations who are standing up for their right to worship together at a potential cost to themselves, even if you do not agree with them. They are our brothers and sisters.
But where does this leave us?
Reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and what was happening in Germany in the 1930’s, I was quite taken aback as I observed the similarities with the moves that Germany took with what is happening in the UK today. The circumstances were different but the solutions are similar and I am fearful that we as a nation are on a slow slide towards a society which will not tolerate Christianity or indeed anything that does not follow the official view.
Now more than ever is the time for us to get to grips with our theology and really dig deep into God’s Word, challenge each other over the meaning and interpretation and above all to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Without the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of us we are lost in our quest for true discernment and understanding of the stand we need to take for the gospels sake.
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. 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 grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at 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.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship