of my life fall to pieces—my whole scheme
of things for the world, my whole body of intellectual
conceptions? And the man to whom this happens
may well say he is afraid. He is afraid, because
it is so strange; because, when you realize it, it
takes you into a new world; you cannot grasp it.
A man whose instinct is for truth may hesitate—will
hesitate about a conception like this. “Is
it possible,” he will ask himself, “that
I am deluded?” And another thought rises up
again and again, “Where will it take me?”
We can understand a man being afraid in that way.
I do not think we have much right not
afraid. If it is the incarnation of God, what
right have we not to be afraid? Then, of course,
a man will say that to follow Christ involves too much
in the way of sacrifice. He is afraid on lower
grounds, afraid of his family, afraid for his career;
he hesitates. To that man the thing will be unintelligible.
The experience of St. Augustine, revealed in his “Confessions”,
is illuminative here. He had intellectual difficulties
in his approach to the Christian position, but the
rate of progress became materially quicker when he
realized that the moral difficulties came first, that
a practical step had to be taken. So with us—to
decide the issue, how far are we prepared to go with
Jesus? Have we realized the experience behind
his thought? The rule which we laid down at the
beginning holds. How far are we prepared to go
in sharing that experience? That will measure
our right to understand him. Once again, in the
plainest language, are we prepared to follow, as the
disciples followed, afraid as they were?
Where is he going? Where is he taking them?
They wonder; they do not know; they are uneasy.
But when all is said, the figure on the road ahead
of them, waiting for them now and looking round, is
the Jesus who loves them and whom they love.
And one can imagine the feeling rising in the mind
of one and another of them: “I don’t
know where he is going, or where he is taking us,
but I must be with him.” There we reach
again what the whole story began with—he
chose twelve that they might “be with him.”
To understand him, we, too, must be with him.
What takes men there? After all, it is, in the
familiar phrase, the love of Jesus. If one loves
the leader, it is easier to follow him. But, whether
you understand him or whether you don’t, if you
love him you are glad that he chose the cross, and
you are glad that you are one of his people.
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE