Wednesday, June 30, 2004

On the Toll Road of Mission

Speaking of Abraham in my last post, Glory E. Dharmaraj makes the excellent point that responding to God’s call always puts one on a toll road:

“Abraham stepped out of a world that was out of step with the one God, Yahweh. All Christians are called of God. Their faithfulness to God’s call may put them out of step with the rest of their community. Christian mission is a commitment and an activity, not a concept or an idea. It costs. Obedience costs. Following costs. The price we pay is giving up our idols and stepping out in trust for God. After all, being in mission is to be on a toll road.”

I was reminded of the cost of mission a few days ago after viewing Bonhoeffer, the excellent documentary feature film on the life of the German theologian who was executed in a concentration camp for his Christian resistance of the Nazi regime. The film does a great job of tracing the arc of Bonhoeffer’s thought from the beginning to end of his life, including the concept of the difference between “cheap” and “costly” grace.

It was precisely this idea which made such a deep impression on my own theological journey back before I entered studies for the ministry. I was introduced to Bonhoeffer through his book, Discipleship. I still remember reading the lines, “When Christ bids a man to follow, he bids him come and die.” That statement shook me to the core, and challenged me not to succumb to the mind-numbing apathy of contemporary Christianity, but to get to the bottom of this thing called “discipleship” and figure out how to actually do it.