Discipleship and the Individual
In this chapter, Bonheoffer has a compelling take on Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. It’s an example of the need to be “in complete breach with the world” and separate from the world of men and things.
It would look different for each of us. For some it might be eating vegan, growing their own food, making their own clothes, serving at a shelter, giving money or time to charities, not owning a TV, or protesting injustice. There are many ways to be in breach of the world and many ways to subvert the usual ways of living in the world. When you do these radical things you are called all manner of things, but to stay authentic to your true self you mustn’t listen to these outside forces.
You can be in breach and not follow Jesus. Just because you are in breach doesn’t make you a Christian.
A Christian should be in the world not of it. This means subverting the world’s systems not to look cool or cause trouble, but to follow Jesus simply means not going along with the way the world would have you live and trusting Jesus to order your life in a healthy, god glorifying way. While the world watches sports, worries what a celebrity is wearing or which celebrities marriage is falling apart, slobbers over the latest gadget and showing off their car, house, or new haircut; a Christian prays, studies the bible, gathers in fellowship, and serves neighbor. To be in breach is in word and deed to say “Jesus not world is my center.”
‘Breach’ is a legal term meaning an action causing a break in a binding agreement by one or more of the parties of the contract by non-performance or interference with the other person’s performance. If the person does not complete his promise, or notifies the other party that he will not perform his duty mentioned in the contract or if by his action, he seems unable to perform the contract, he is in breach.
“The call of Jesus teaches us that our relation to the world has been built on an illusion. All the time we thought we had enjoyed a direct relation with men and things. This is what had hindered us from faith and obedience. Now we learn that in the most intimate relationships of life… direct relationships are impossible. Sine the coming of Christ, his followers have no more immediate realities of their own, not in their family relationships nor in the ties with their nation nor in the relationships formed in the process of living. Between father and son, husband and wife, the individual and the nation, stands Christ the mediator, whether they are to recognize him or not. We cannot establish direct contact outside ourselves except through him, through his word, and through our following of him. To think otherwise is to deceive ourselves.”
In my case, attending a Presbyterian Church and participating in my bible study group and trying to live out my faith in real ways is in breach of all that my family and society taught me. Understanding my journey thus far will help you know how subversive attending a Christian church and studying bible really is. I was born and raised in the LDS church and my family is still in that religion. My breaking away from that church and proclaiming Jesus as my Lord and Savior is in breach of my family’s heritage. Matthew 10 says that we are to love Jesus more, take up our cross and follow him, and that whoever loses their life for Jesus will find it. I did that. I turned my back on the church I was raised to find the real Jesus and it made all the difference. It wasn’t a smooth course. It took many turns and curves. The most important thing is I found Jesus and each day I try to live out and understand deeper and fuller what being a Jesus follower means for me today.
The further I go into my walk with Jesus the more radical it becomes by not buying the things of the world, but trying to discern God’s word, will, and call for my life. By not cursing and abandoning God, I am in breach of the world. There’s a glut of books and people who will gleefully tell you that God is wishful thinking on demand and that religion is evil and the sole source of all that is wrong with the world. I say no. I say that God is real and having a relationship with Him and belonging to a faith community gives my life purpose and meaning.
By going to school and looking forward to attending a seminary, I am in breach. Some would have me get a job flipping burgers or some other mindless drudge work and not try to better myself, but stay trapped by my own self imposed limitations. Even the writing of these blogs and sharing my faith and struggles causes me to be in breach. I have been called a heretic and worse. I have been made to think that questioning and wrestling with my faith is wrong and even borderline evil. By transforming myself through the word of God, I am in breach of the world. I foresee that I will continue to be and will be in even bigger breach in the future, but I see no other way to live faithful to God and his word. To follow Jesus is to be in breach of the world. To follow Jesus is to cause breach and division in family and world. There’s no way around it. Jesus even said it would happen.
Using Mark 10.28-31, Bonheoffer argues that the church compensates for the losses of discipleship a hundredfold.
I don’t know. This is both a promise and a hope. I know trouble comes to those who follow Jesus and claim him as Lord and Savior. The history of the church is replete with those who have suffered and died for Christ and never given up the promise and hope that Jesus offers in this verse. Matthew 6 and Luke 12 both say to seek first the Kingdom of God and your needs will be handled. The message (for Luke 12) says, “Don’t be afraid of missing out.” Maybe, we should just follow Jesus and not worry so much about things. If and we do have eternal life then we can trust that God will bless us with many good things. First, though is to trust Jesus and act in that trust, not for rewards, things, blessings, or to look good, but because of a deep desire to know and follow Jesus in real way. This verse says follow Jesus and you will get all you want and more, but your concern can never be on the things not even on going to heaven, but on following Jesus now. That’s what is most important.
Jesus says follow me. Jesus says come and see. Jesus says the kingdom of God is here. You don’t follow Jesus to get things, but because you are compelled and to not follow would be much detrimental than the trouble you will get into for becoming a Jesus follower.
It’s a choice. A choice you make each day. You choose to follow Jesus and then you do the things Jesus calls you to do. That’s all you do. Things become meaningless compared to knowing Jesus. As Paul writes in Philippians 3, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” You must consider your things, dreams, hopes, ideas and everything else as garbage compared to Jesus. Jesus must be first. Jesus must come before everything.
I am not there. I don’t have it all together and probably never will. There are still things I want and hope to get. I don’t know if I’ll be there. If I will be able to call the things of the world I hope for garbage and that’s why I need Jesus and thank God that I have such a beautiful savior.