Trinity

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

A comparison of three books on disciplineship 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 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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What is the opposite of theft?

Thoughts with regard to the seventh commandment

 

1. What can we steal? By far it is not only an object, which may become other people’s property to be stolen. According to its original interpretation the seventh commandment referred to kidnapping. God has given people the freedom of choice even at the cost that we turn against Him and kill His only begotten son. We should not expropriate the freedom of any person. Trust can also be stolen. All kinds of manipulation, illicit profit or fraud are thefts. Greediness and prodigality are also theft because they limit other people’s prosperity. As we destroy the Earth now, we steal from our descendants. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. What is the opposite of theft? The opposite of theft is not the pledge of "I will not steal from now on". We do not steal the opportunity from others only – if we create it for them. As in the case of every commandment, including the seventh about theft, the point is not what I DO NOT do, but what I do. The lazy non-action is day theft. The real opposite of theft is not self-restraint or refraining from the sin of theft but generosity, providing advantages to others and increasing others’ self-confidence and self-esteem. Only a life of dedicated service is free of theft. You do not take away only if you give. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. When do I not steal from God? Life is a zero-sum game only in case we do not believe that God still goes on creating and He overwhelms us with His love stream in every moment. This inexhaustible source provides the extra love in the world that can be forwarded again and again. Our lives become complete if they are connected to the love network of the Holy Trinity. If we close inside the love falling on us and we do not forward it, we steal from God. One of the criteria of canonization in the Christian Church is that the candidate should radiate joy around him. We are all able to radiate joy around us because this joy comes from the infinite love reaching us. Forwarding God’s love what makes our joy complete, too. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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How can we remain faithful?

Thoughts concerning the sixth commandment

 

1. In how many ways can we commit fornication? When we have to speak about our sins, we very easily switch to a language that we believe washes those sins sin-free. I bring three examples for this "re-contextualization", which is extremely dangerous. I show on the Biblical example of the rape of Tamar that fornication is an unfortunately good example of that the fall in most of the cases happens step by step when stages follow each other very easily. Devil slinks away fast if he encounters a closed door. Though it is getting easier to him if we have already made the first, the second or the umpteenth "careless" step towards sin. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How can we remain faithful? Fornication is interpreted by the Bible much more extensively than sexuality. Fornication (in an extended sense) is an opposition to the harmony of the created order of God. The real essence of fornication is not betraying our spouse or our previous date but betraying God. To avoid fornication (sexually or generally) our only chance is if we let the Holy Trinity’s love community spread on us. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

3. Purity as a state of life. Purity is cleanness, i.e. it is not the inverse of getting impure but the measure of the closeness to God. Escaping from fornication is not a result of a continuous fight against the evil but accepting the good. Fornication cannot step into the neighborhood of God. The one who already knows the Totality of God’s love will not desire anything better or more. He will realize that Totality is total: there is no bigger totality than Totality. There is no bigger love than God’s love. It is impossible that someone commits fornication who has already been lost in the love of God. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

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How should we keep holy the name of the Lord and the Lord's day?

Thoughts about the second and the third commandments

 

1. Wrong approaches of honoring God. A lot of people think that it is quite easy to obey the second and the third commandments. "We do not take the name of the Lord in vain, and we go to the church on every Sunday. Okay, on church holidays, too. All right, even on those infrequently visited church holidays, (like Epiphany, Ascension of Jesus, etc.), too, which fall on week days." I must disagree with my brothers and sisters thinking these. Honoring God is not a compliance with rules or a type of behavior. People with divided hearts do not have strength. It is because they do not keep and save Jesus in themselves. They cannot keep Jesus in themselves because it is impossible to accept a half-Jesus. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How should we keep holy the Lord's name? God is not the God of denial but the God of affirmation. God does not take anything away but He gives something. That is we always have to find the affirmative content behind the prohibitive words of the commandments because these carry the real message (Hebrews 10:1). The essence of the second commandment is that I bless the name of the Lord. The presence of God is the presence of the most precious gift in our lives. But if we do not listen to what the gift is that God is willing to give us, we will never receive it. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

3. How should we keep holy the Lord's day? Holidays are signs. They are such signs that have been given to us, people, by the Holy Trinity as a memory of Its love and indelible union. God’s signs though can be interpreted and can become complete only together with the Word of God. If a Christian is only looking for the signs of God he will become a 'raver-Christian'. For a man living in Jesus, every moment of each day becomes a sign. If we consider every moment a sign, the sign of God will be carved on us. The love of Jesus will shine out of us. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

 

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What is Christian identity?

Season opening thoughts about the first commandment

 

1. Our fake Gods, our fake Christianity. A lot of people think that it is quite easy to obey the first commandment. We have been baptized and affirmed our baptism by confirmation. What else is Christian identity, if not this? I have to disagree with the sisters and brothers thinking these. Christian identity is not a set of features. It is not community membership. It cannot be gained. It cannot be possessed. The Lord will only be our sole God if we do not place anything even close to Him that may reach His importance. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

2. The roots of Christian identity. The most important source of Christian identity is living in a communion with the Holy Trinity. Looking at the Ten Commandments from the light of the New Testament it is obvious that God’s intention is not to restrict us but to fulfill us. Knowing God’s Totality and experiencing His endless love, we can see that obeying the Ten Commandments becomes a consequence – and not a requirement. The dual communion experienced with God and fellow human beings is not else than the love command of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39). The specific manifestation of Christian identity’s roots is the prayer, the Sacraments (the baptism and especially the Eucharist) and the Word of God. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

3. The trunk and shoots of Christian identity. The first important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the recognition of sin and the fear of God. The most important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the gradual formation of Jesus’ face and His whole self in us. There are a lot of shoots of Christian identity that are individual characteristics of Christian believers. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

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What makes the church attractive today?

Pentecost thoughts about the power of the Gospel

 

1. What makes the church UNattractive today? Pentecost is the birthday of the church. However nowadays many people already start to bury the church here, in Europe. There are centuries old churches which became practically empty, priests make series of funerals instead of baptisms, there are many directionless congregations... I have collected some recently published reports in my essay. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my Pentecost essay here.)

 

2. What do we, people think can make the church attractive today? A lot of solutions have been created to address the current problems of the European church. I quote some of them in my essay. All these are remarkably respectable points and suggestions. However the Essence of the European Church’s renewal is missing from them. What is this Essence? The third, closing part of my essay will write about this. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my Pentecost essay here.)

 

3. What does make the church REALLY attractive today? What would like to see the young people in the church to attract them? They would like to see credibility. "Deep relationships are needed between the authentic adult servants and the youth." "Young people would like to have a relationship, an example and such a faith that means not only a Sunday morning program but can serve as a help in their challenging everyday life." (David Kinnaman) Credibility is not arisen from us. Credibility is an undistorted transmission of the Holy Spirit’s power through us. The church of Europe needs depth instead of wideness. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my Pentecost essay here.)

 

 

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The forms of the Presence of mind

Thoughts about holiness of life

 

 

 

1. When would we need the presence of mind in our everyday lives? The presence of mind is usually interpreted as the capacity of solving difficult situations. In this essay I interpret the presence of mind as the presence of the Holy Spirit. How many of those situations can we recall also from our own lives when one of our good deeds have not been realized because we recognized too late what we should have done? In the first part of my essay I describe a few examples of this. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my essay here.)

 

2. Forms of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Appearance of the Holy Spirit may happen in a million ways – exemplifying the infinity of God’s creativity. The Holy Spirit may pour out, may sweep everything away, may wash everything clear and may re-create everything. However, the silent everyday work of the Holy Spirit is much more frequent than the pouring out storm of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is as much disciplined as It cannot be controlled. The Holy Spirit lives in a permanent and intensive love relationship with Christ and the Father. It invites us into this love relationship, too. This love relationship has a quite important role in that what way the Holy Spirit is creating and sustaining the power of the believers’ community and the church. We can experience the help, comfort and power of the Holy Spirit in the most amazing and unexpected moments of our lives. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my essay here.)

 

3. The continuous presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives: the holiness of life. The continuous, strong and realized presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives brings the holiness of life. In this status, our deep and sustained love relationship with the Holy Trinity becomes so strong that our lives settle into their right directions so that this love relationship may remain intact. Pope Francis writes about this in his "Rejoice and Be Glad" exhortation: "Trust-filled prayer is a response of a heart open to encountering God face to face, where all is peaceful and the quiet voice of the Lord can be heard in the midst of silence. In that silence, we can discern, in the light of the Spirit, the paths of holiness to which the Lord is calling us." (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my essay here.)

 

 

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Life situations of fulfillment at young and old age

Thoughts about the Totality of a life in Jesus

 

 

 

1. What is the difference between the young and the old? Being young is identical with our openness to the world, the diversity of our responsiveness and our capacity to lifelong learning. The old age can be described with an experience encoded as an effective behavior pattern, the wisdom of distinguishing the substantial issues from the unimportant ones and the restraint from the extremes. The young and the old behaviors are not linked to the chronological age. Systems become complex if they are capable of both behaviors – alternately. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my essay here.)

 

2. Life situations of fulfillment at young and old age. Young age is the age of exploration and enrichment of the information of the environment. In young age there is no permanent order. The young cannot be controlled, it is vigorous and happy. For the young every moment is a whole life. The fulfillment of the young breaks the limits and creates a new world. The old age is the age of clarity, the capability to identify what is important and what is not, thus the age of wisdom. The old age has learnt to wait. The old age has learnt to listen. For the old the whole life is a moment. The old age has experienced the beauty of purity and silence. (If you would like to read about this more, please, please, read my essay here.)

 

   

3. Life situations of fulfillment in Jesus. The man living in Jesus is not alternating between young and old but he has entered the timelessness of the Holy Trinity where he can be both young and old at the same time. Jesus as the Door (John 10:9), opens the Totality of the Father that gives an unlimited space for the youth to grow and enrich. As the Path and the Truth, Jesus endows the old age’s capability to identify the essence with the Totality of Vision. Jesus, as the Life, joins the impulsivity of the youth with the timelessness of the old. Man living in Jesus lives in the Resurrection where death is not the end but the door opening to God’s Totality. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my essay here.)

 

 

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