Practice Resurrection (5)

Text:  Ephesians 4.1-16

For three chapters, Paul has been unfolding for his readers the eternal purpose of God being worked out in history.  Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is creating something new – a new humanity.  He paints a magnificent vision.

In chapter four, Paul begins to move on to the new standards which are expected of this new community.  He moves from what God has done to what we must do and be

When the early Anabaptists rightly emphasized the demands of discipleship, they were in line with Paul’s teaching.  One of their favourite terms was nachfolge (to follow or the act of following).  Four centuries later, the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer would write a book whose German title is simply Nachfolge.  The most striking thought comes near the beginning where he says:  “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.

Cheap grace is to hear the gospel preached as follows: "Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness." The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast… costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a person to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Questions for reflection:

1      Eugene Peterson claims that any attempt to craft a Christian maturity apart from church will fail.  Do you agree?  What is it about church community that is essential to growing up in Christ?

2      Of the four qualities listed in vs.2, which one do you feel needs the most development in your life?

3      What practices have helped your growth into Christian maturity?  What shortcuts have you tried that didn’t work so well?

PRAYER:   Help us, O Lord, in our life together, to demonstrate to a fractured and hurting world that Jesus really does make possible a new way of living: a way of humble service, patience for failure and offense, love for those different than ourselves.  In all we say and do help us to walk your way of peace.  Amen