But you know, it sort of works. And it has had the uncanny effect of making me excited that the kind of stuff that I do every day is somehow worthwhile in the cause of Showing People Jesus is Badical (ahem, I may have been watching too much Kim Possible.)
ANYWAY, I've got to the part where the author explains how the life of Jesus is characterised by love and holiness and obedience all at once. Okay, so far so predictable. And that they're all intertwined, uh huh, and that they're about being true to the light you've been given. (This is something of a paraphrase).
Huh? Well, when the fella comes to Jesus looking for a discussion, "Rabbi, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" and Jesus responds with the Pharisaical equivalent of,
"And what did you learn in primary school, young man?" he parrots off the love-God-wholly-and-love-neighbour-as-self bit.
"Great!" says Jesus, "That's the stuff."
"But who is my neighbour?" says the fella, either trying to justify himself, trying to have a theological discussion rather than a lesson in practical theology, or for some other reason.
Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, and asks not "Who is your neighbour?" but "Who was the neighbour in this situation?" and then says, "Go and do likewise." Live up to the light you have received.
The reason for this longwindedness is to come to this point: that if you want to know who Jesus is, what He does, what He can do for you, then as good a place to start as any is by doing what he says.
Worked for the disciples, I guess! They didn't really know much about him to begin with (or this is the impression I get) so they followed him around and learned by doing.
The author's suggestion, then, for those who feel that they have too many doubts to follow Jesus honestly, is this:
Tell God (or the four walls, if that is who you think you are speaking to) that you want to find out if Jesus is truly God and that, if you could feel more certain, you would follow him. Then begin to read the Gospels every day. Each day, as you read, something will probably hit you and make sense. Whatever that is, do it as soon as you can.
I think this is a great idea. So great an idea that I'm going to have a little go. The start of Matthew, I should point out, is not the best place for this (at least for me).
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Obviously, everyone is going to get hit by something different. But it's an interesting experiment, nonetheless.
"And what do stars do?...They shine."