I am still thinking about that quote from Martin Luther. “Discipleship is not limited to what you can understand–it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own understanding…. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. In this way Abraham went forth from his father, not knowing where he was going. You cannot find it in yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire–that is the road you must take.”
The more that I thought about this, the greater kinship I felt, not with Martin Luther but with the early disciples of Jesus. When I read the Gospels (especially the Gospel of Mark) the disciples all seem to be essentially bewildered about who Jesus is, what he was called to do in his life on earth, and what he is asking them to do. They ask foolish questions. They fight about their interpretations and their relationship with him (who is more loved for instance.) They deny over and over that he is going to suffer and die and if they follow him they will suffer too. They really just do not get it. And when we modern-day Jesus followers read about their thick-headed responses, we just want to say, “don’t you get it?” But here is the rub; even though they were in the dark more often than not, they kept coming back for more. They never really understood fully, even when they profess faith in Jesus, just who Jesus was and what this life of discipleship means for them but they kept coming back.
I finally have a glimmer of understanding. The disciples who walked the earth with Jesus were bewildered because that is what facing someone so awesome as Jesus does to us. We cannot understand and we are not even supposed to. They and we are true disciples when we admit that we are over our heads. This is the kind of Mystery where we do not ever really find out “who did it.” And that is the point of discipleship. We are called to live in Mystery, follow blindly and keep coming back. No wonder the early disciples sound so dumb. We are too, if we just admit it. And our bewilderment is not limited to grappling with the person of Jesus, it is also when we grapple with the mysteries of life in community.
When we gather, and keep gathering as disciples, in our congregations and in our communities, we are often bewildered about how to be together. And all the mistakes we make are part of our formation as a people who are trying our best to follow in the path that Jesus laid out for us. It is okay to cut ourselves some slack when we do not know what to do or when we are feeling overwhelmed or bewildered. That is just where God wants us.