Dietrich Bonhoeffer was known to use the term “cheap grace.” He understood the term to mean “…an attempt to reap the benefits of Christianity without paying the price: to seek redemption without authentic conversion, or forgiveness without repentance.” (Graced Crossroads by Ted Dunn, p. 185) In other words, reaping the benefits without the cost to get them.
Throughout history there has always been a cost to trying to live a good life. Trying to be good parents often comes at a high cost. Hours of sleep lost, financial struggles, modeling the right way to do things, especially to a teenager. When one tries to be a good Christian she or he sometimes appears foolish to colleagues or even family members. When one tries to be an honest business person or political figure she or he is often mocked, falsely accused or denigrated in some way. Working for the right way to be is often demanding and costly. It is not cheap grace.
Whatever faith denomination one belongs to, each of us is called to be disciples, women and men, who daily live out the values inherent in the belief system of that group. That will come at a cost. Being a disciple in the true sense of the word cannot be achieved with cheap grace. The reality of discipleship means living each day showing respect for all. It means showing compassion to everyone, especially those who are hurting in some way. It means being faithful to one’s spiritual life and her or his relationship with God. All of this comes with a cost.
It’s not easy being respectful to a braggart or someone who is always negative. It’s not easy taking time out of a busy schedule to take a neighbor grocery shopping. It’s not easy to take time out of a busy day to spend time with God in silent and spoken prayer. All of this comes with a cost. True disciples do not take the easy way of cheap grace. They are committed, faithful and generous with their time and talents.
May each of us be the faithful servant who earned our keep in the Reign of God!
In what ways do your choices and actions reflect your faithfulness, commitment and generosity of time and talent?
What are some examples of when cheap grace took over and you took the easy way to reap some benefits?