Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a noted German theologian. He wrote the classic book, The Cost of Discipleship. In it he said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” In 1930, a Black Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, shaped Bonhoeffer’s theology. While attending this church, he saw how African American Christians practiced love—despite the suffering they endured from racists. What he saw in Harlem and America shaped his theology. It moved him to go home, resist Hitler, and die as a martyr in 1945. As Jesus was about to go to the Cross, He gave His disciples a principle to follow if they were to be successful in spreading the Good News about His kingdom. In John 13 we find these words of Jesus, “I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Some believe that the primary reason the Church loses people and its influence in the world is not its lack of correct doctrine; it’s a lack of love as Jesus defined it. It’s the failure of many professing Christians to practice the love they profess. If more people practiced costly love as Jesus defined it, it would not only keep people coming to church, it would have its impact across the street, across the tracks, and across the world.
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