I’ve been re-reading parts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. It is as jolting now as it was the first time I read it in my teens. Sit down and take a deep breath before you read these words from Chapter 2: The Call to Discipleship.

“Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son. And a Christianity of that kind is nothing more or less than the end of discipleship.

In such a religion there is trust in God, but no following of Christ. Because the Son of God became Man, because he is the Mediator, for that reason alone the only true relation we can have with him is to follow him. Discipleship is bound to Christ as the Mediator, and where it is properly understood, it necessarily implies faith in the Son of God as the Mediator. Only the Mediator, the God-Man, can call men to follow him. 

Discipleship without Jesus Christ is a way of our own choosing. It may be the ideal way, It may even lead to martyrdom, but it is devoid of all promise. Jesus will certainly reject it.”