Disciples Must be Oblivious

The only required reflection for disciples is to be completely oblivious, completely unreflective in obedience, in discipleship, in love. If you do good, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. You should not know your own goodness.[170] Otherwise it will really be your goodness, and not the goodness of Christ. The goodness of Christ, the goodness of discipleship takes place without awareness. The genuine deed of love is always a deed hidden to myself. Pay heed that you do not know it. Only in this way is it the goodness of God. If I want to know my own goodness and my own love, then it is no longer love. Even the extraordinary love of enemies remains hidden to disciples. When they love their enemies, then they no longer view them as enemies. This blindness of the disciples, or rather this vision enlightened by Christ, is what makes them certain. The hiddenness of their lives from themselves is their promise.

Bonhoeffer, D. (2003). Discipleship. (B. Green & R. Krauss, Trans., M. Kuske, I. Tödt, G. B. Kelly, & J. D. Godsey, Eds.) (Vol. 4). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

What do you think? I do have some sympathy for those that speak of forgetting themselves in the act of liturgy. Note that they aren’t losing themselves as in some complete negation of the subject in Eastern religions. This act of self-forgetting is one that develops slowly in the act of ritual, just as we might no longer notice details around us when we see them on a regular basis. This fits, I believe, into a Lutheran model of the human person where our wills remain fallen, broken pieces of what they should be. However, I tend to think we need to approach the issue more holistically. Our ability to make decisions, to intentionally decide must also undergo change, so that even our free choices may be active examples of creative energy given to us by God.

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