Follow you? Follow who? Who, me?

…If you had been living in Jesus’ time and had heard him teaching, would you have been one of his followers?

To be an honest taker of this test, I think you have to try to forget that you have read the Gospels and that Jesus has been a “big name” for 2,000 years. You have to imagine instead that you are walking past the local courthouse and you come upon a crowd listening to a man named Joe Green or Green Joe, depending on judgments whispered among the listeners on the fringe. You too stop to listen, and you soon realize that Joe Green is saying something utterly scandalous, utterly unexpectable from the premises of modern society. He is saying: “Don’t resist evil. If somebody slaps your right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. Love your enemies. When people curse you, you must bless them. When people hate you, you must treat them kindly. When people mistrust you, you must pray for them. This is the way you must act if you want to be children of God.” Well, you know how happily that would be received, not only in the White House and the Capitol, but among most of your neighbors. And then suppose this Joe Green looks at you over the heads of the crowd, calls you by name and says, “I want to come to dinner at your house.”

I suppose that you, like me, hope very much that you would say, “Come ahead.” But I suppose also that you, like me, had better not be too sure. You will remember that in Jesus’ lifetime even his most intimate friends could hardly be described as overconfident.

— Wendell Berry, The Burden of the Gospels

2 thoughts on “Follow you? Follow who? Who, me?

  1. I believe,no I know for certain,I would have stopped and listened. Not only that I would have accepted His teaching. Why? Because it is the Holy Spirit which moves one to become a believer and not ones own reasoning. Without the power of the Spirit none would accept Christ. The same is true today as it was then. Having said that, I do not want any to think I myself am always obedient, but I am always aware of the Spirit’s power in my life. When I falter and conviction floods my being, I ask forgiveness and move on, knowing God has always loved be from before I was in my mother’s womb.

  2. That’s great. But do you understand what a great (and unusual) demonstration of God’s power it takes for someone to be able to give up, say, resisting evil? That doesn’t seem to be the current fashion among American evangelicals, for example. Yes, the Holy Spirit might have drawn you to Jesus, but you might have felt like a moth drawn to a flame, with no hope of self-protection. I know I feel that way sometimes.

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