Bonhoeffer: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and pastor who was hanged  in a Nazi concentration camp said,

The first call which every Christian experiences is the call to abandon the attachments of this world.

Jesus speaking to his disciples in Matthew 16:24,25 says,

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Bonhoeffer, perhaps with these verses in mind, said,

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.

Jesus clearly is saying that we cannot follow him unless we deny ourselves, and take up our cross. And so I wonder why we barely even talk about what Jesus is saying here?  We invite people to come to Christ and we talk about the joy of sin forgiven and the peace that God gives and yet it seems that we aren’t telling the whole story.  I wonder why we ourselves barely ask what this means for our own lives?

In a couple weeks we during our morning office meetings will start looking at what these verses mean for our lives.  Aaron Hendricks, one of the Heartline men, will lead this study.  We as well will ask ourselves:

  • What does discipleship mean?
  • How can we be disciples?
  • What are the characteristics of a disciple?
  • What does it mean to deny ourselves and follow Christ?
  • What does it mean to pick up our cross and follow Christ?
  • What does it mean to truly be a follower of Christ?
  • How can we help others become disciples?

Perhaps you are thinking that this is what the believers in Haiti need, to be taught what it is to truly be a follower of Christ.  Whereas I am thinking that this is what I really need and what those serving in Haiti with Heartline really need.  Clearly  our effectiveness here in Haiti depends on what kind of followers we are.

The better we  know Christ and follow Christ, the more effective we will be in making a difference and touching lives for the gospel.  This may go against the conventional way of thinking when I say that it’s not about how many people we feed or how many students we support or how many people attend our church or how many children we support as much as it is about the words found in Philippians 3:10,11 Amp:

10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]

11That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

How can these verses become more that just words on a page or something that seems to abstract to be real.

In closing, I think of these words by Bonhoeffer,

Salvation is free, … but discipleship will cost you your life

Pray with us as we endeavor to learn what it is to be a disciple and  so impact Haiti through the power of the resurrected Christ.




  1. Paul Beltis says:

    John, you continue to inspire & teach, in your humble yet powerful way. May God bless you & the men in the study, & all of you & the Heartline staff in your work. I’m praying for you all every day.

  2. […] bid us to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The Lord Jesus Christ bids us, rather paradoxically, to take up our cross and die with him. And no one in the history of the world who has taken the Lord’s advice over the Epicureans […]

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