“Through the call of Jesus men become individuals….
Every man is called separately and must follow alone.
But men are frightened of solitude, and they try to protect
themselves from it by merging themselves into the society
of their fellow-men and in their material environment.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The above quote has been tossing around in my mind while reading through the whole of Bonhoeffer's marvellous book. Overall, I feel that the Lutheran is filling a void in my Christian learning.
Comprehension of the quote stems from Luke 14:26, the words of Jesus:
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate
father and mother, wife and children, brothers
and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a
person cannot be my disciple."
and from Bonhoeffer's exposition of the Sermon on the Mount.
In respect the verse from Luke, Jesus makes a call on each individual regardless of that individual's familial ties, racial background, marital status, tradition or nationhood. Jesus does this is he stands above any social, traditional or political construct - individual acceptance of Jesus being paramount over any earthly relationship.
In respect Bonhoeffer's exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, a picture of a new order forms - of a nation without land or temple or earthly king.
So, man becomes individual as he recognises his priority in Christ and lives within the new order. For at the call:
"men find that they have ... broken
with all natural ties of life.
This is not their own doing,
but his who calls them".
It is only through being an individual in Christ that Jesus can establish his disciples as "Salt of the Earth, "Light of the World", Matthew 5:13,16.
The quote turns in my mind for its simplicity in distinguishing man's standing as an individual. To the glory of God, pauper and rich man have a single place of belonging and hope.
The quote also turns in my mind for a question it has raised. The question arises from the later part of the quote - "men are frightened of solitude" - more on that later.
Note: all links good 11 June 2016