“Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29-30 MSG)
Jesus calls us to a level of intimacy that can only be sustained by his constant presence in our lives. He says, “Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:29-30 MSG).
Jesus is real, and so our response to him must be real. In other words, we can’t just say we have faith; we must show our faith by doing what God tells us to do. Deitrich Bonhoeffer, an influential theologian who was martyred under the Nazi regime, says, “For faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it, and faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience.”
But taking a step in and of itself doesn’t mean we obey Jesus. He is very specific in what he tells us to do. He doesn’t say “Follow some general biblical principles” or “Submit yourself to a certain doctrine.” Jesus doesn’t present a plan for positive thinking or suggest seven simple steps to becoming his disciple. Jesus says, “Follow me,” and we do just that. Bonhoeffer also says, “Discipleship without Jesus Christ is a way of our own choosing. Even if our choice leads us to martyrdom, it is devoid of promise and Jesus will certainly reject it.”
Bonhoeffer notes we can never follow an idea in personal obedience. “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship; Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”
“It remains an abstract idea,” says Bonhoeffer, “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.”