Single-Minded Obedience

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a present day martyr for the faith [1], who Himmler hung on April 9, 1945, by special order, just a few days before the allies liberated the concentration camp at Flossenburg in Germany. I am in the process of reading/studying his book, The Cost of Discipleship to learn how to become a disciple worthy of Jesus Christ. If anyone had the credentials and authority to write this book, he did. The only thing about his plight is that he was a free man living in New York, but went back to Berlin through England to minister to his Christian brothers and sisters during war time.

Dietrich knew that the Lord had called him to martyrdom, and he accepted his fate by going back to Germany and ultimately to die for his outspoken beliefs and abhorrence to socialism, the Fuhrer, war, and his repudiation of the Nazis. Bonhoeffer, no doubt, signed his own death warrant because of his total obedience to Christ paying absolutely no attention to the consequences, even unto death.

Come and Die
Learning how to become a disciple of Christ, The Cost of Discipleship takes us through the Beatitudes through the compelling pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The late Bishop of Chichester, G.K.A. Bell writes in the foreword to Bonhoeffer’s book, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.” The essence of discipleship is contained in those words, and this marvelous book is a commentary on the cost [2].

Chapter three, Single-Minded Obedience especially caught my attention. The dictionary defines single-minded as the focus on one thing at the expense of anything else, or the concentration on only one aim or purpose. He quickly aligns this definition to The Call to Discipleship [3]. Bonhoeffer then expounds on the call in chapter three.

Get out of the Boat
When Christ called to Peter to get out of the boat, only one thing was required, single-minded obedience to the word of God. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer writes, The forces which tried to interpose themselves between the word of Jesus and the response to obedience were as formidable then as they are today. [4]

Peter took the first step of obedience (literally) in accordance with Christ’s word and command to “Come!” Peter then walked on water or at least until the forces interposed themselves by way of the wind tossed sea. Peter took his focus off of Christ and that’s all that it took for him to take a swim [5]. Many people decry Peter’s lack of faith, to which I must make a couple observations. Number one: Peter was the only one who got out of the boat [6]. Number two: Peter walked back to the boat [7]

v28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
v29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
v30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me
v31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? [Matthew 14:28-31 KJV]

What forces are interposing themselves between your response to obedience and the word of God? Anything that hinders you from your decision of obedience stops your belief and the possibility of faith [8] or the growth thereof. Only those who believe obey. Only those who obey believe. It is unbiblical to hold to the first and not to the second. However, obedience is always the first step. We face many decisions of obedience every day. How will you respond?

What if your obedience meant the loss of a friend, a relationship, a job, jail time, or what if your response to obedience meant your martyrdom for the sake of Christ? Is your faith just a preference, or is it a commitment? Those who will not live for Christ will not die for Him.

God has set before us life and death. Therefore, chose life that we may live [9]. Dietrich Bonhoeffer received his crown of life [10]. Do we await and long for ours? It’s our decision.

Author’s note: I highly recommend The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bishop Bell was absolutely correct, it is a marvelous book.

[1] Christianity
[2] Direct quote from the book The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, page 11
[3] Chapter two of the same book
[4] Direct quote from The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, page 79
[5] Matthew 14:22-33
[6] Christ did not mention any names. He just said “Come!” Any one who stepped out of the boat would have been able to follow Peter out to Jesus.
[7] Peter walked out to where Jesus was and sank. Jesus saved him and they both walked back. Jesus will ALWAYS answer that prayer, “Save me!”
[8] Faith is the condition of obedience
[9] Deuteronomy 30:19
[10] Revelation 2:10

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