Cheap Grace – Part One

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”  I Peter 5:10

“Seeing the world through rose colored glasses” is an idiom that has been around since the 1700s, meaning to see only the pleasant things about a situation and not notice the things that are unpleasant. It is often used in the sense of being hopeful or optimistic.

A better outlook, a more realistic one, is to see life through the eyes of Jesus. How does Jesus look at a matter?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian best known for being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. He was there because he practices what he preached: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

He so practiced his faith in the face of hostility that the guards who brutalized him eventually came to respect him and offered to let him escape. He refused saying they, the guards, and their families would be executed. He died in the prison days before he would have been liberated. An understanding of his concept of grace will help us to understand grace and how we should live among our enemies. In turn it exposes the cheap grace being preached in most churches and practiced by many Christians. Of it he said: 

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” By way of contrast he insisted: 

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought 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.”

He offered this sobering succinct wisdom: “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.”

Do you need to change trains regarding your concept of costly grace?

Bonhoeffer had no cause to try to see the world through rose colored glasses, neither do we. Rather we, as he, need to start looking at life through the eyes of Jesus. Grace, costly grace, be unto you.

One final quote: “It is only because he became like us that we can become like him.”