December 2019

What is the essence of following Jesus and being a disciple of Him?

A comparison of three books on discipleship written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rowan Williams and Pope Francis

 

1. A description of being a disciple by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1) Following Jesus provides and demands a changed life that undertakes the despised suffering in Christ for Christ. There is no cheap mercy. "Only the believer is obedient – only the obedient believes." 2) A half-Jesus cannot be accepted. Following Jesus is not following or interpreting rules but it is a total reliance with absolute confidence on that Christ, our Lord depicts Himself in us. We can find the Father in praying through Jesus. The Holy Trinity itself has harbored in Christians. At this point we do not interpret and live our lives from our viewpoints any more but in Christ for Christ. Discipleship (nevertheless) is the totality of freedom and joy. 3) Although it is the decision of each individual to follow Jesus but it cannot be kept away from the community of the disciples and the church. 4) Following Jesus separates us from the world ("There is not an own road leading from man to man. ... Christ stands between us as an obstacle. The only road to neighbors leads through Him"), but at the same time it links us to all people in the universality of love. 5) Following Jesus is not that broad way in which the crowd go. That is why, with the spreading strength of our whole lives spent in Jesus, we have to witness about our Lord at all times until He comes again. The intensity of the lines of "The Cost of Discipleship" makes it obvious that the writer does not present an intellectual or literary feat but his own, innermost self transformed in Christ – together with all its consequences. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. A description of being disciples by Rowan Williams. What were the most important statements of the book "Being disciples" to me? 1.) Discipleship is such a state of being in which you are silent and listening all the time; you just let Jesus’ act (and indirectly the Father’s act) happen by you. For we can hear God, silence is needed. It is in God’s hands who I am. We are the objects of eternal enjoyment. 2) The essence of discipleship is a fusion with the Holy Trinity’s life. Believing is faith that the truth is able to possess me and it keeps me even if I myself cannot hold on any longer. Discipleship is growth and joy. 3) The disciple is together with those (the poor and the excluded of the world), whom Jesus would like to accompany. We have to be such places where people are given time and space to meet the eternal love. Saints create joy around themselves and show the world in a new light. Others recognize in their presence that God is working in the world. You can see God in them instead of themselves.(If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. A description of being disciples by Pope Francis. What were the most significant statements of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Rejoice and Be Glad" to me? 1) Holiness means that we are dying and resurrecting together with Christ continuously; its measure is determined by how large Christ’s counterpart is in us. Let the Holy Spirit transform you allowing this to happen. It is not life that has a mission, but life is the mission itself. In holiness you arrive to the point where you become the one whom the Father meant you to be when He created you. Dependence on Him is liberation from slavery. Being Christian is a joy in the Holy Spirit. 2) A trustful prayer is the answer of the heart opening to God calling Him „thou”, in which all words end allowing the Lord’s sweet voice to become audible in the silence. In this silence, in the Spirit’s light you can recognize the paths of holiness that are shown by the Lord. Otherwise our decisions are just "decorations" that, instead of implementing the Gospel in our lives, hide and strangle it. 3) Holiness does not mean that our eyes sparkle in an anticipated ecstasy. If we really start with observing Christ, we have to recognize Him on those people’s (the poor’s and the sufferers’) faces whom He wanted to identify with. Mercy is the vault that supports the church’s life. Humility can take roots in the heart only through experiencing indignity. 4) Nobody is redeemed alone, isolated, one by one. Keeping an eye on the net of human relationships, God attracts us to Himself. The community of believers is for creating the divine space in which the resurrected Lord’s mysterious presence can be experienced. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

4. A comparison of the three descriptions of discipleship. The three descriptions of discipleship contain a numerous significant similarities. There is a twofold reason for the high level of matches. On the one hand the three books contain the description of discipleship’s realization and do not deal with the dogmatically founded reasons of discipleship. On the other hand all three authors are theologists of the cross and not the glory regarding their personalities and attitudes. Jesus depicted in us (though He is depicted differently in everyone) is the same Jesus according to the essence of these three witnesses’ wordings. Though we are all blind and touch the very different parts of the elephant, still the very same elephant has to appear from the fragmented pictures as our life experiences are put together. Beside my own inner certainty of this, it has been a pleasure to experience a "common certainty" during reading and comparing these three excellent books. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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What is real wisdom?

New Year’s thoughts about following the harmony of the world

 

1. What are the things that are not identical with wisdom? At the start of the new year many people think about what wise decisions they would make along the year. A lot of people identify cleverness or knowledge with wisdom. A lot of people think that it is wise if I surpass my own thoughts and decisions. Affirmation of denial of any of my previous behaviors revolves around me. A lot of people follow another person who thought to be wiser than them and they think that they have found wisdom by doing so. If everyone goes to the same direction then the community will never find any new ways ever... (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How can wisdom be approached? The key idea of the ancient wisdom was the golden mean that is refraining from the extremes. If everyone goes right then the wise man goes left. Because it is the appropriate weighting then. The way to wisdom means to experience the diversity of Totality more and more deeply and to be able to choose smartly among the lot of colors. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. What is real wisdom? The threshold of real wisdom is when we can sense our human limits. We have to accommodate Totality to be wise. If we enter the love community of the Trinity, we are given such a viewpoint by God that can see through the whole Totality at once. THIS is real wisdom. Wisdom is everywhere – where we do not look for it with our human existence that is closed in itself. It calls after us. I wish all my Readers for the New Year to hear the call of wisdom. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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What is the only appropriate wish?

Christmas thoughts with regards to the ninth and the tenth commandments

 

1. What are the things we should not wish? Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the times of wishes. We should not only ask from Jesus but we should give something to Him! Similarly: at New Year’s Day a lot of us formulate wishes related to their own lives. Perhaps this year we should vow that we will not vow anything? The ninth and the tenth commandments are not about that we should not covet a house, a wife or anything else that belong to someone else but they warn us that the earthly wishes and greed, the "I want to furnish the world as I have planned it" are all already rebellions against the will of God. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How is a real wish formulated in us? A lesson of my pilgrimage at the Holy Land. Those wishes that are not ours are often formulated in a quite specific way. Here I show you an example from my pilgrimage at the Holy Land. Jesus gave me a wish there. How may this "usually" happen? Very typically: "in pieces". We are too small to accept Jesus’ wishes in one piece. That is why He trains us gradually. He makes us to feel only one tiny bit of His wish. Then He shows another bit. Then the third one. And finally: He shows the whole picture together. It is only then (which may be months or years later!) when we understand what happened to us and why. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. What is the only appropriate wish? After all of these what can I wish my Readers for Christmas? To be able to say with all your hearts: "Thy will be done!" Believe me, my dear Reader, if you can say this from the bottom of your heart, from that moment on – grace will come to you. Every day will be a new blessing for you. But not only for you. For all the people who will be around you. Because at the very moment you will say "Thy will be done!" Christ will be born within you. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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What is the essence of sincerity?

Thoughts with regard to the eighth commandment

 

1. Who is my neighbor and what is false testimony? How much easier the eighth commandment ("Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour!") would be if the words "your neighbor" were not there or there were "your friend" there instead. Jesus’ illustration about the Good Samaritan (Lucas 10:25) teaches us that the network of love around us and the acts of mercy recognizing the need determine the idea of "neighbor". God has no respect of persons being not partial (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11). We should not be either. False speech is harmful by far not only on court. Our nowadays "post-reality" society has made it an awfully common practice that if something is told with a media-magnified voice becomes true – whether or not reality is diametrically the opposite of it. Faithful word is not only right but pure, too. Silence can also be false witness. The real point of the eighth commandment is not prohibition either but persuasion. I should spread the truth and stand for it: I should not be silent when truth is violated. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How can we be sincere? A lot of people identify sincerity with truthfulness. The profound content of sincerity is to be honest with God. When somebody speaks sincerely, he speaks about the essence instead of unimportant things. Sincerity does not necessarily mean to be talkative. (In fact real sincerity speaks little because it focuses on the essence.) A Carthusian monk who has taken a vow of silence can also strongly show the essence of his existence through his life, metacommunications and writings. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. What is real sincerity? The essence of sincerity is our relations to the harmony of the created world of God. If we accept the harmony of the created order of God, we get into the love stream coming from the Holy Trinity. Whether we hear the call of Jesus to love is the only really important decision of our lives. It belongs to real sincerity that we forward the love to others that we have received. It is the essence of our existence to participate in the love chain. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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