In Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, he expresses shock at the way we Christians twist and turn to escape the clear commands of Christ. Our preachers help us out in this by explaining away the hard teaching and the narrow way. When Jesus says turn the other cheek, he does not really mean accept another blow. He means twist back around so you can get a really good swing on your counter punch. When Jesus says seek first the kingdom of God, he really means seek other things first but be prepared to bet all on the coming kingdom if it comes to that.
Bonhoeffer will have none of this.
How is such absurdity possible? What has happened that the word of Jesus can be thus degraded by this trifling, and thus left open to the mockery of the world? When orders are issued in other spheres of life there is no doubt whatever of their meaning. If a father sends his child to bed, the boy knows at once what he has to do. But suppose he has picked up a smattering of pseudo-theology. In that case he would argue more or less like this: “Father tells me to go to bed, but he rally means that I am tired, and he does not want me to be tired. I can overcome tiredness just as well if I go out and play. Therefore though father tells me to go to bed, he really means: ‘Go out and play.'” If a child tried such arguments on his father or a citizen on his government, they would both meet with a kind of language they could not fail to understand — in short they would be punished. Are we to treat the commandment of Jesus differently from other orders and exchange single-minded obedience for downright disobedience? How could that be possible!
Bonhoeffer writes that obedience to Christ pulls us into a place where faith is possible. It puts us in a place in which we can in fact have true faith, true trust, that Jesus Christ is our Savior.
I am reminded this day to be attentive to the word of Jesus Christ and to step out in obedience, not because I understand but because the grace of God gives me the faith to do so.