Being liberated from the hard yoke — by the easy one

I have been enthalled again rereading and listening to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship.” Bonhoeffer streches and challenges my mind when I read sections like this:

When the Bible speaks of “following Jesus”, it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind from all man-made dogma, from every burden and oppression, from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience. If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ. But does this mean that we can ignore the seriousness of His command? Far from it! We can only achieve perfect liberty and enjoy fellowship with Jesus when His command, His call to absolute discipleship, is appreciated in its entirety. Only the man who follows the command of Jesus without reserve, and submits unresistingly to His yoke, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard –unutterably hard — for those who try to resist it. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, xxxiii)

There was a conversation we had the other day at my house. We were talking about reserve and how people’s personalities change. It was my contention that, while there are always instances of indecision, a person who comes to Christ (and follows him as a disciple) has a boldness that goes beyond his own personal inhibitions because Christ has already secured everything for him. The irony is that you are freed from oppression only by complete surrender.

You will not be disappointed if you read “The Cost of Discipleship.” At the very least, go download it for free and listen. If you are like me, you will be rewarded for the effort.

Freedom is more than you think

My teenage daughter recently started her first “real” job. She has also delivered newspapers — with my help — babysat and helped at camp, so I can’t say that she hasn’t worked before. Still, this is the first type of regular-working, paycheck kind of job that she’s had and I’m pleased that she’s taken some initiative and stepped out into the working world.

Because of this step and the increased responsibilities and privileges it brings, we’ve talked about how she needs to manage her school and home schedules. It’s an interesting dilemma she now faces as she’s able to earn money (which is great for a teenager!) yet also is less free to do things. The other day we talked about how you have to learn to prioritize things in your life because not everything you want to do is worth doing.

Her situation is a good example of what freedom can mean in our lives. In this culture, we hear a lot of talk about freedoms we have and ones we think are being restricted. In our society you’ll often hear people come down on Christians as “imposing their views” on people, as if telling biblical truths somehow limits your freedom to live as you choose. But there is a freedom in Christianity that limits yet liberates you more than anything else can.

In his excellent book “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism,” Timothy Keller addresses claims like these and others and shows that those who state them are really not seeing the issues clearly or as clearly as they think they do. Below is a brief audio excerpt of a message Keller gave in 2006 at Redeemer Church in New York as part of a series entitled “The Trouble with Christianity: Why it’s so Hard to Believe it.” Those messages were the basis of “The Reason for God.” Go here to hear the entire message.

By way of background, in the excerpt Keller is talking about freedom based on Galatians 2:4-16 where Paul confronts Peter about his treatment of Gentile believers.

Tim Keller explains how freedom is more than you think.