Saturday 22 June 2019

What does it mean to 'follow' Jesus?

What does it mean to 'follow' Jesus? In essence it means to follow Jesus through death and to the divine, resurrected life eternal.

But what does 'following' mean?

The explanation of what it means is covered in the Fourth Gospel, particularly in the section on the Good Shepherd. Because (naturally enough) this 'process' has to be 'explained' in a symbolic/ metaphorical kind of way.

In brief 'following' is done by Loving Jesus; other words having faith, trusting, knowing that he is Good, wanting-this for your-self.

The kind of thing is much like the young child's love, faith trust in his mother and father (in an ideal family) - the knowledge that Jesus has our best interests at heart, the confidence that whatever he does is for our ultimate benefit (whatever the short-term, surface appearance of things may be).

The point is that following Jesus is a personal relationship - not a prescription, not a set of abstractions. It cannot be listed as 'what to do' any more that you can make a comprehensive checklist of 'being married' or 'being a son'. The primary reality is the quality of the relationship - which is loving, and the nature of 'love' intended is of the same quality as the ideal of within-family love.

The journey from mortal to immortal life is one that can only be done with a Guide - no map, no set of instructions, will suffice - only a Guide, in whom we have absolute confidence - and for this journey there is only One Guide who Knows the Way.

So the path from this mortal life to eternal, resurrected, divine life is one that we can only follow by following Jesus, we cannot find our own way, we must have him (and nobody else) as our Guide - he goes ahead, he shows the way; and because we Love him we have the confidence and trust to walk behind (in his footsteps) until we arrive.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Yes, I guess I understand what you mean, but in practice I find it difficult to feel that I have a "personal relationship" with a historical figure known only through old books written in foreign languages. I "get" some historical figures, they "resonate" with me -- but that's not a relationship. I guess some sort of telepathic contact with the still-living Jesus is necessary and should be possible in principle, but I've never been able to achieve it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - "I guess some sort of telepathic contact with the still-living Jesus is necessary and should be possible in principle, but I've never been able to achieve it."

Yes, that is exactly the *kind* of thing needed - i.e. a direct knowledge, here and now. My belief (from Steiner, Barfield, Arkle) is that most modern men can't (and aren't meant to) do telepathy/ mediumship/ visions anymore (at least not unless in an impaired state of consciousness) - for good and necessary reasons to do with the development of agency (we aren't free when we are dominated by perceptions/ visions/ voices, so need to move beyond them).

Much of this blog is about what we should *instead* be paying attention to - that which we just-know, which is in our stream of thinking, primary thinking, direct intuition, that about which we know in an unmediated fashion by 'sharing' of thinking.

This is already happening in us unconsciously, but we need to become aware of it explicitly, and acknowledge its validity.

I think that is how we know Jesus/ The Holy Ghost (which are the same thing) here and now and without reference to scripture or history (although valid scriptures can point the way, they are not strictly necessary).

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

What I mean is that no mere knowledge of Jesus, whether direct or indirect, can amount to a relationship.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - You're adopting a too narrow definition of knowledge - I mean knowing directly that one has a relationship; like knowing that one loves one's wife, parent, sibling, child etc. This may be unconsciously present, or present and brought to consciousness.