For the next few
posts I’m going to work through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “The cost of
Discipleship”. This book was
originally written in German with the title, “Nachfolgen”. A literal English
translation would be “Following”.
I have posted on the consequence of the English title before, so I will
describe it briefly again.
Jesus calls. We follow. In order to follow we say Yes to God, and no to other
things. The Yes of fellowship with
Jesus is so much more than the No we say to those things that keep us away from
Jesus. In other words, there is a
cost of following Jesus. But this
cost is nothing compared to the thrill of being in a relationship with Jesus.
keep on talking about the cost, focusing just on that, then they easily miss
the supreme superiority of the Prize.
To phrase it in yet another way, the price of following Jesus is nothing
compared to the prize of fellowship with Jesus.
This is important
to remember. Jesus famously said
that, “when we lose our lives we gain it.” He told two parables in Matthew 13 elucidating the joy at
the other end of the price or cost.
of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.
Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again,
the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on
finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. ”
(Matthew 13:44–46, ESV)
Jesus is worth
it. He is worthy. The cost of discipleship is absolute,
the joy of following is immense. I
battle with the English translation of the title of Bonhoeffer’s book “Nachfolge”.
I will leave you
with John Stackhouse’s comments on the same issue,
best-known book bears the English title The Cost of Discipleship. But “cost”
is only one of its main themes, and Bonheoffer’s original title in German, Nachfolge,
rendered “discipleship” in English, literally means just “following.” The book
he wrote, then, is not an exposition of what it costs to be a disciple, but a manual
of how to be a disciple. It is far more than a warning: it is an invitation and
an instruction. [Making the Best of it p.123].