I have well over 1,000 books in my library, but just a handful come to mind when I think of books that are able to define discipleship well. They would include Jim Berg’s Changed Into His Image, Clyde Cranford’s Because We Love Him, and of course, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. Now, I’m adding another to that short list – Jon Walker’s Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship.
I suppose it’s ironic, first of all, that my short list of favorite books on discipleship includes works that probably contradict each other in many places. Jim Berg is methodical in his approach, presenting a great outline of a life of discipleship. Cranford is more poetic and philosophical while Rick Warren is extremely practical, real, and down-to-earth. It’s also ironic that I’ve never read Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, which is the classic work that serves as the basis for Jon’s new book. The original was even listed by Christianity Today as one of the ten most influential books of the last century. Even without having read Bonhoeffer’s classic, I grew in my understanding of discipleship simply by digesting Walker’s observations and conclusions. For example…
The essence of discipleship, then, is to know Jesus at a level of intimacy that can only be sustained by His constant presence in our lives.
~ Jon Walker, page 21
You must stop seeing Jesus as an add on to your life and begin seeing Jesus as the reason for your life.
~ Jon Walker, page 45
Our self-righteousness is nothing less than an arrogant assault upon the holiness of God and when we wink at our sin – any sin – we cheapen the bloody price that Jesus paid to cleanse us from those sins.
~ Jon Walker, page 118
Jon does a fabulous job categorically treating every area of life and laying the groundwork for imitating Christ in every respect. Grace is free, but not cheap. It’s the driving factor in our discipleship because it frees us to follow Jesus completely and forsake our sin completely. But grace doesn’t free us from the obligation to trust and obey. Rather grace creates the capacity for us to follow in obedience to and likeness of Christ.
The book goes a great distance in helping us see the intrinsic connection in God’s economy between truth and grace. Ultimately, it challenges us to forsake all and follow Christ, not making Him more important than anything else, but making Him the only thing.
You must grab a copy and study it, or use it to lead others in a study. I can wholeheartedly recommend it – it’s now on my short list!