A couple years ago, my father talked me into watching a 2003 documentary titled, Bonhoeffer. I was reluctant at first because I had my pre-conceived notions that this was just another old philosopher whose ideology I would find difficult to relate to or with which to agree. Instead, I learned about a young pastor who entered ministry in the height of Nazi occupation in Germany and eventually gave up his life as a martyr opposing Jewish persecution. A living inspiration for courage and faith, I was intrigued most by his theological concept that he coined, "Cheap Grace" in his book The Cost of Discipleship.
"Cheap grace" is very different than God's grace in that we bestow cheap grace on ourselves. It's a grace that comes at little to no cost to our daily routine and involves no real repentance for our sin. Paul refers to this when he writes in Romans, "What shall we say, then? Should we keep on sinning that grace may increase? By no means! If we have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" The Grace that God gives comes at a huge cost. It came at the cost of Jesus, our Lord, when He gave his life on the cross. In turn enjoying God's Grace, which is free and infinite, involves a sacrifice on our part. It requires that we yoke ourselves to the Gospel, that we repent of our sins, and that we allow ourselves to be held accountable for our actions. It is by submission to Christ, that we experience the love and Grace of God in our lives and it is only then that we can be transformed in mind and spirit. Dietrich Bonhoeffer defined cheap grace very differently "Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ".
Many times I've wondered why God feels distant, His path unclear, or why I either did not see transformation or the power that the Bible so clearly marks as an attribute of a disciple. Now when I feel like I am in a spiritual desert, I ask myself how much more can I give as an offering to God whether that be my idols, my worry, or my shame.