One of the most life changing gifts anyone had ever given me happened at my High School graduation party. A woman from Church put The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a bag and when I opened it up I was thrown off because I had no recollection of any Christian thinkers outside of the U.S. As I read it that summer, it tore my life apart. Page after page, the ideas of discipleship and what it meant to be a Christian were deconstructed heavily. While I am not a fan of all or nothing types of thinking, Bonhoeffer’s message of Cheap Grace caused me to look deeply into myself. It was really that summer when I began moving towards a lifestyle of Christ.
One of the most tragic and yet honest pictures of American Christianity comes from the movie Talladega Nights.
While I love this movie and this scene, what disturbs is the somewhat factual image it gives of American Christianity. For some Christians, following Jesus simply means: wearing Christian T-shirts, having a Cross around your neck, slapping a bumper sticker on your car and going to Church every once in a while to get God off your back. One of the best ways I’ve heard this explained is that these Christians have taken Jesus as their mascot and not as their Lord. They don’t take on the Lordship of Jesus. Christianity for them is a title, an indoctrination, an evacuation plan from Hell. Yet, it costs them nothing. It doesn’t transform them. It doesn’t move into action. It never makes it into your lifestyle. It asks nothing of you.
When you are invested in something that asks nothing of you, how good could it be?
In his book On Religion writes this about love and uses marriage as his example:
“If a man asks a woman…”do you love me?” and if, after a long and awkward pause and considerable deliberation, she replies with wrinkled brow, “well, up to a certain point, under certain conditions, and to a certain extent,” then we can be sure that whatever it is she feels for this poor fellow it is not love and this relationship is not going to work out. For if love is the measure, the only measure of love is love without measure (Augustine again). One of the ideas behind “love” is that it represents a giving without holding back, an “unconditional” commitment, which marks love with a certain excess…If a woman divorces a man because he turned out to be a failure in his profession and just did not measure up to the salary expectations she had for him when they married, if she complains that he did not live up to his end of the “bargain,” well, that is not the sort of till-death-us-do-part, unconditional commitment that is built into marital love and the marital vow. Love is not a bargain, but unconditional giving; it is not an investment, but a commitment come what may. Lovers are people who exceed their duty, who look around for ways to do more than is required of them. If you love your job, you don’t just do the minimum that is required of you; you do more.”
This to me demonstrates what following Jesus would be like. If we build it upon conditions and laws, with loopholes and escapes, then we really are not looking to transform our image to God’s, but God’s image into ours. We want God only insofar as much as he agrees with us and our lifestyle. This is Ricky Bobby Christianity. This is Christianity without discipleship, with cost. Frankly, it’s a Christianity that’s not worth living because we do not get to taste the Truth that sets us free.
What does being a Christian mean to you?
How have you incorporated God into your lifestyle?