Last week, I said I would offer my answer to ‘what keeps you following Jesus?’ That was rash! (I notice nobody else has taken up the challenge!)
The first rather simplistic answer is ‘because I promised to follow’. This might not seem very informed; after all just because I undertake to do something doesn’t in itself make it right. But there’s a grain of truth in this answer. When I’m doubtful or puzzled or just fed up, I do recall my adult confirmation when I made the commitment to follow and it keeps me going – ‘hand to the plough’ and all that.
The second thing to say is that whatever struggles I may have with aspects of the Christian faith and its institutional manifestations, I am passionate about the fundamental message of the prophets and the gospel: justice, peace, forgiveness, compassion, and service to the needy and the stranger. My humanist friends would rightly maintain that people of no religious faith can and do uphold these values. So what for me is the difference? The story of the workers in the vineyard and of the ‘prodigal son’ (among others) speak of a kind of ‘unfair’ generosity of which I am not personally capable. I glimpse though that there is something here beyond the scales of human justice.
The third answer is to the question ‘how’ rather than the question ‘why’. I genuinely salute those who are able to live good and generous lives without a faith to sustain them. I find strength to seek to live as well as I can from the inspiration of the gospel narrative and its celebration in the eucharist.
These thoughts represent only a step towards an understanding – and it’s only what I have to say today. I’m on a long (and slow) learning curve!