Below is an excerpt from Breakfast with Bonhoeffer, which releases this week from Leafwood Publishers. This book, Jon Walker’s third with Leafwood Publishers, is a more personal work based on the author’s journey while writing two other books on Bonhoeffer, Costly Grace and In Visible Fellowship. For more on Jon Walker and his books, visit his blog at www.gracecreates.com
Several years ago, in one of those God-things, my friend Bucky Rosenbaum introduced me to Gary Myers and Leonard Allen from Leafwood Publishers. They were looking for a writer familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer who could teach his concepts of costly grace to a new generation.
It proved to be a good match and, for reasons this book will explain, a project that God used to strengthen me even as he sifted me during a very challenging year. The result of that meeting was the book, Costly Grace.
While writing Costly Grace, I would take my dog for walks each morning and, in a sense, have conversations with Bonhoeff er as I tried to understand his beliefs on the cost of grace, the need for a concrete faith, and the critical nature of keeping our walk centered exclusively on Christ. During those walks, I saw how easily his practical, hands-on theology fit into my own circumstances, but I also found myself arguing with Bonhoeffer—and ultimately Jesus—over some of the hard truths involved in following Christ.
Gary and I discussed those conversations, and he suggested I write a more personal book about the things I learned from Bonhoeffer. You’ll understand why this was a difficult book to write, and so I think it is important to explain my approach to this very personal story.
First, writers are always required to make choices about what to put in and what to leave out, what best tells the story and what will become a distraction to the reader. In writing this narrative, I clearly do not tell everything or get into considerable detail. I chose to do this because I wanted to be as fair and even-handed as possible in such a narrative.
There is no need to go into such detail in order to tell my story, which is about God’s faithful involvement in our considerably flawed lives. In writing this narrative, I was reminded of the sin, past and present, in my life and the need to extend grace just as I accept grace.
Second, this narrative exposes a messy faith, but I intended it that way. I know mine has been messy over the years, and I know many loving, committed believers who continue to grow and mature because they keep following Jesus, despite their messy faith.
I look in the Bible and I see messy faith in both the Old and New Testaments. Many of the biblical lessons that teach us about faith emerge from the messy faith of the disciples.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived a messy faith, believing Jesus continually brings us to choices that require total dependence upon him in order to take the next step. This means we stop being afraid of making mistakes, trusting that, if we mis-step, God sweeps in with his grace, is faithful to forgive, and will work things out to get us back on track because he wants us to move forward in our journey. Bonhoeffer teaches that a life of such extraordinary risk is the expectation, not the exception, for any disciple of Jesus.