Discipleship and the Cross

As an addition to the devotions from Philippians 3 for yesterday and today, consider these words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic Discipleship:

“The cross is neither misfortune nor harsh fate.  Instead, it is that suffering which comes from our allegiance to Jesus Christ alone.  The cross is not random suffering, but necessary suffering.  The cross is not suffering that stems from natural existence; it is suffering that comes from being Christian.  The essence of the cross is not suffering alone; it is suffering and being rejected.  Strictly speaking, it is being rejected for the sake of Jesus Christ, not for the sake of any other attitude or confession.  A Christianity that no longer took discipleship seriously remade the gospel into only the solace of cheap grace.  Moreover, it drew no line between natural and Christian existence.  Such a Christianity had to understand the cross as one’s daily misfortune, as the predicament and anxiety of our natural life.  Here it has been forgotten that the cross always also means being rejected, that the cross includes the shame of suffering.  Being shunned, despised, and deserted by people, as in the psalmist’s unending lament, is an essential feature of the suffering of the cross, which cannot be comprehended by a Christianity that is unable to differentiate between a citizen’s ordinary existence and Christian existence.  The cross is suffering with Christ.  Indeed, it is Christ-suffering.  Only one who is bound to Christ as this occurs in discipleship stands in seriousness under the cross.” (Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pg. 52).

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