A word of appreciation for Bishop Mark MacDonald’s column, Why be a Christian? [April 2012, p. 4]. I thoroughly support the response of his Lakota friend, “That’s simple: Jesus.” Without Jesus, the church is nothing. With Jesus, we can be everything we are called to be.
One point of difference, however. Bishop MacDonald suggests that Jesus is tarred with the same unhappy brush as the church in the popular mind. My experience is different. When I was teaching religious studies at Simon Fraser University between 1989 and 2004, I regularly encountered the attitude among students that religion and the church are bad, while Jesus is good, to put it in its starkest terms. For many, if not most, Jesus transcends the misdeeds and failings of the church.
As the church continues to decline, having lost almost all of its social and cultural clout, and as community organizations take up much of the work that the church once did on its own, it becomes clearer that Jesus himself is the church’s greatest resource, drawing card and reason for existence. Somehow, we need to move beyond our Anglican reticence, and the ways in which we have made Jesus boring, and let him speak for himself—through us.
Attractive, challenging, strong, loving and wise, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is not only the teacher and spiritual master of Christians, he has been welcomed into almost all the other great religions.
It’s time to break through our deadly shyness and make conversation with and about Jesus the norm of our community life.
The Rev. Donald Grayston