Cheap grace (The Cost of Discipleship chapter 1)

Why do so many people who claim to be Christians live so little of the Christian life? Why do so many people who claim to be followers of Christ live like the rest of the world?
Bonhoeffer addresses this issue by introducing the idea of “cheap grace.” He calls cheap grace the enemy of the church.
Cheap grace fails to properly deal with sin. In cheap grace “the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin.” Cheap grace throws a cheap covering on our sins and thinks that will take care of the problem of sin. Real grace is from God; cheap grace is not. Bonhoeffer says, “Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.”
The board game Monopoly had those “get out of jail free” cards. Cheap grace gives us a “get out of changing your life” card. Cheap grace lets “the Christian live like the rest of the world” and it lets the Christian “model himself on the world’s standard in every sphere of life…” Cheap grace produces a life that is “no different from the world.” Thinking we have opened the door for more people to come in, we have actually destroyed what it means to follow Christ. As Bonhoeffer says, “Instead of opening up the way to Christ it has closed it. Instead of calling us to follow Christ, it has hardened us in our disobedience.”
Too often, we have peddled a gospel of cheap grace to the world. In fact, for several decades most surveys and statistics reveal we are no different than the world. We have gone to great pains to look like the world, sound like the world, and act like the world.
English writer Charles Colton once said, “Pure truth, like pure gold, has been found unfit for circulation because men have discovered that it is far more convenient to adulterate the truth then to refine themselves. They will not advance their minds to the standards; therefore they lower the standards to their minds.”

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