Digby Wilkinson, Vicar of Tawa offers a very helpful message in the video below as he reminds us that God calls us by name and that makes a difference in how we respond thereafter. Like the potato digger's daughter (*see video message) who responded differently after she was told who she really is, we too are changed when we get it that God cares and loves us enough to call us by name.
Interestingly the Gospel reading on the Sunday when we heard and viewed this video, tells us how Jesus responded when he was called by name (Messiah) by Peter for the first time - see Mark 8: 29
29 He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’
Jesus took that recognition as the right time to start talking about his journey to the cross and resurrection,
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly.
It seems that Jesus could only begin talking like this and more fully enter into His mission because he had been recognised by one of His disciples and called by name. Jesus like us was human and here He models the very point that Reverend Digby makes in his second Lenten sermon.
What a wonderful thought; that when we realise that we are called by name, by God, we too are empowered to walk by the Spirit and enter more fully into our ministry, which is Jesus ministry!
In 1937 German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what has become a Christian classic book, "The Cost of Discipleship." In it he draws inspiration from Jesus' sermon on the mount. One of the most quoted parts of the book deals with the distinction which Bonhoeffer makes between "cheap" and "costly" grace. According to Bonhoeffer, "cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, ultimately - grace without Jesus Christ."
Cheap grace", Bonhoeffer says, is to hear the gospel preached as follows: "Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness." The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast to cheap grace, "costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'"
Bonhoeffer who was a supporter of an anti-Hitler conspiracy was executed at Flossenbürg on April 9, 1945, just 2 weeks before this Nazi concentration camp was liberated by the US Army. In resisting "cheap grace," Bonhoeffer died for his resistance to the Nazi cause and its leader.