It is not only about rules, nor only about obeying the Ten Commandments. It is not only about heaven or hell, nor is it only about reading the Bible. It is not only about going to church, nor is it only about tossing a dollar in the collection plate. It is something much greater than that. Something rich. Something life-giving.
Christians know what people think of us. Popular depictions of us as Bible-thumping, judgmental, hypocritical, sexist fundamentalists are all over the place. We are well aware of all this and it would be more than fair to say that we deserve some of that criticism. We are sorry and we hope that you can forgive us for our insensitivity and bigotry.
Though we sometimes fail to effectively communicate the message of Christianity, it is not only about rules, duty, or obligation. To be honest, I myself, as the son of a pastor, thought that was what Christianity was all about. I blindly obeyed the rules without really understanding what it was all about. However, once I came to McGill and left my parents and my church, I realized that I needed to find out what I, for 18 years of my life, had committed myself to.
Christianity is about a relationship. All of us as Christians have met a man named Jesus. We were not forced to meet him. We met him when we were ready, in our own personal ways. He was waiting for us ever so patiently.
We came to Jesus in our poverty. All of us are poor in some way. We may not be financially poor, but all of us experience some sort of need or suffering. Some of us need food, a roof over our head, and a warm bed. Some of us need freedom from the slavery of school, perfectionism, and self-hatred while others need rest, peace in our bodies, and solitude in our hearts. However, all of us need someone who sees us as who we are (not as our appearances or our GPAs) and accepts us in the way that we need to be accepted. We, as Christians, have acknowledged our needs, our poverty, and in our desperation, sought this man named Jesus, who told us that he wants to offer us something more than just a solution to our poverty. He wants to offer water to our thirsty soul, satisfaction to our hungry hearts, peace to our chaotic minds.
Jesus has invited us into a relationship with him. He told and showed us that we are precious to him. We are valued. Even though we suffer from our poverty, he offers to be the shoulder we cry on, our best friend, our sustainer. Through this relationship, we find true satisfaction, freedom, and a deep love within. How do we know this? He came to this world to live with the outsiders – street people, the awkward, and those rejected by society. He then sacrificed himself on a cross to show us how much he truly valued us.
Jesus has asked us to let go of our poverty, to let go of the things with which we often replace an intimate, loving, life-giving relationship and to acknowledge that what Jesus is offering is so much better. However, like all relationships, there must be commitment, a willing desire and decision to allow Jesus to become our top-priority.
What is your poverty? What are your needs? What do you suffer from and wish every day that you would be freed from? Jesus is offering you freedom. Do you want it?
Meet Jesus on your own terms. It does not have to be at a church. It does not have to be with a priest.
Speak to Jesus. He listened to me, and he’s waiting to listen to you. He’s been waiting for you.
Joshua Chu is a U3 Theology student and president of the McGill Christian Fellowship. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.