Chapter 16, “The Hiddenness of the Devout Life”
How is the Christian’s life of subjection to God described? In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus tells his disciples that their fasting is to be seen by God. When fasting, they are to prepare themselves for life as they always would otherwise.
Bonhoeffer observes first that the Lord assumes disciples are planning to fast. It is by fasting and other self-renunciation that we die to ourselves. In this way we discipline our flesh so the old man has no rights. This may be a practice we would like to avoid, but Bonhoeffer reminds us that our discipleship separates us from our world and its pleasures.
There is a danger, which Bonhoeffer acknowledges, of trying to replace Christ’s sufferings with our own. This moves the locus of our salvation from Jesus to ourselves. We avoid that but still practice our self-denial.