‘Is dog friendly chocolate ok to eat?’

All I can say is that when I gave it a try the answer was inconclusive. Curiosity may have killed the cat but such tasting and seeing describes the way the Bible wants us to engage deeper with God; to use its language, to see if the Lord is good. Tasting and seeing are why we have menus in restaurants; restaurants want us to taste and see if the meal is as good as it sounds.

Menus work in different ways. If you choose a set meal for two then it is the chef who has already chosen what this meal is made up of and you choose it because you like what the chef has chosen. Opposite to this is the a la carte menu where it is you doing the choosing. Menus are not only about the quantity of choice, they are also about the quality of what is offered. As a rule of thumb a bistro with a limited menu is more likely to serve a better quality of food than the gastro pub with its encyclopaedia size menu.

Why this obsession with food? It’s because discipleship is going to become a far more obvious focus for us as a church and in my experience churches like to work in terms of menus. Either they offer a meal for two on a take it or leave it basis or an a la carte menu where the ‘disciple’ is king. My hunch is that the Bible seems to be somewhere in the middle.

When John wrote his Gospel he seemed unable to decide whether he was writing to persuade someone to become a Christian, or to encourage believers to continue in the faith. Thus you can translate John 20:31 to mean either that we may come to believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God or that we may continue to do so. John’s vague Greek is crucial as he seems to be saying that discipleship is not to be reduced to a matter of personal preference, as if you were reading an a la carte menu, and neither is it a preference of mine, as if were like a meal for two.

Instead John’s ambiguity is far cleverer and subtle than that. John writes daring to suggest that when we think of ourselves as Jesus’ disciples it’s not a case of submitting to our own personal whim, or the Ministers’, but to the Holy Spirit and to his leading us in how we reach the goal of discipleship.

If you’re wondering what that is; well, that’s for another day.

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