“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27 ESV)
This chapter presented a totally new concept to me. I must draw a diagram to try to convey what I think Bonhoeffer is trying to communicate based on the passage above.
Before accepting the call to follow Jesus:
I am surrounded by relationships and nothing or no one stands between me and them. Bonhoeffer would say they are immediate. Often this is pleasant and desirable, while at other times this can be frightening. The challenge is that I see all of these relationships through my eyes and my desires.
After accepting the call to follow Jesus:
Christ stands between them. The way to one’s neighbor leads only through Christ. That is why intercession is the most promising way to another person, and common prayer in Christ’s name is the most genuine community. – The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I am in Christ and He is the mediator between me and everyone around me. Now I see the world through Jesus’ eyes. I can relate to the world around me in ways that were impossible before because I have no fear in Christ. It is also true that the world will relate to me in a different way. If I am in Christ, then if they have rejected Christ they will reject me. If they are also in Christ then we will be in community with each other whether we want to be or not.
Everyone enters discipleship alone, but no one remains alone in discipleship. – The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Jesus does not call groups of people to follow Him. He calls individuals and each person must decide whether to follow. Once we decide to say yes to the call to follow we are in Christ and joined in community with every other individual who has also said yes to that call. Nothing can separate us if we are in Christ.
This is where I think this gets very practical. We can be in Christ because of the grace and forgiveness that flows from the cross. Since we have been forgiven we can and must forgive others. Christ is our mediator. His forgiveness covers both our sins. Outside of Christ I see someone who has hurt me. Inside of Christ I see someone who is forgiven just as I have been.