This week I learned about Charles Carroll, a lover of God and follower of Christ. Among this man’s great earthly resume I learned that he was the longest living signer of America’s Declaration of Independence, helped found the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, was the father of seven and sought to enter by the narrow gate, Christ. Carroll wrote:
“Too much of my time & attention have been misapplied on matters to which an impartial Judge, penetrating the secrets of hearts, before whom I shall soon appear, will ascribe merit deserving recompense. On the mercy of my redeemer I rely for salvation and on His merits; not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts [Ephesians 2:8-9].” 1
As I read Carroll’s words, I see a man “deserving” an entry into Heaven per his sincere obedience to Christ and great personal resume. Yet, I am humbled in reading that he chose near the end of his life instead to focus on Christ, and not his personal accomplishments in the name of Christ.
Then there is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my spiritual heroes. Standing at the memorial dedicated to him in the town of Wroclaw 2 of Poland I meditated on what I knew of this man. He sought to be a respecter of God and not of persons. He was a German minister aiming to take the Good News beyond the borders of the pulpit into the hearts of men by living first what he taught others about Christ. Bonhoeffer stood up for the innocent and sought to sacrifice his own comfort to stop Nazi oppression. He died a martyr for his personal faith in God as well as the German resistance mere days before the fall of Nazi Germany.
Bonhoeffer’s rich faith was difficult to pin down, but in one of his expositions he stated:
“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline*, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 3
I was reminded of Christ’s words to use right judgments (John 7:24) and not judge by appearances, including theological differences that are not mine to judge. I learned a long time ago to be grateful for anyone calling themselves God-fearing and side up beside them on this journey of expanding the Kingdom one heart, one moment and one encouragement at a time.
I am always encouraged to hear Christ’s name spoken anywhere, worshipped with a “praise God,” or a prayerful “Lord, Lord” when crediting God or seeking his wisdom. It reminds me I am not alone when I am away from my spiritual family doing life day to day.
Mine is to make love my aim in everything, and link arms with those bearing the fruit of the Spirit no matter their theology.
Jesus indeed is holding all things together and bringing his enemies under His feet so I don’t have to.
1 Charles Carroll Letter, wallbuilders.com. http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=49
2 Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau, Germany, now Wroclaw, Poland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer#Childhood_and_family
3 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/cheap-grace
*On Bonheoffer’s use of the word “Discipline,” Interpretation mine. From what I have read on Bonheoffer, I believe I am falling in line with Christ’s and Bohoeffer’s thinking: “discipline” as in teaching, not punishing/shunning for the sake of outwardly forcing a change of heart, for only Christ can change hearts when taught authentically.