“For we are labourers together with God: you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building” — 1 Corinthians 3:9
CHURCH IS COOL… BECAUSE JESUS IS COOL
By Bo Sanchez with the Kerygma Staff
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear or see the word “church”?
You’ll probably think of a giant basilica or cathedral filled with ancient holy relics, lined up with stained glass windows, and visited weekly by hundreds of faithful patrons. (Hundreds, not thousands… isn’t that sad?)
Or maybe you’ll be thinking of a small chapel, or any down-sized version of the picture I painted above.
Either way, I’m sure that the first thing that comes to mind when you see or hear the word ‘church’ is a building. A structure. An establishment.
And many people have mixed feelings when think of a church. Some people think of it as a holy place, a place of worship.
Can I shatter that image and give you a new one?
Do this. Think of the word ‘church’. And then look in a mirror.
That, my friend, is the Church.
It’s you and me!
We make up the Church! Cool people like you and *ehem* me (yes, I’m cool, too!) make up the Church that our even cooler savior has built.
Cool Church, Cool Jesus
It’s sad that not many people thing going to Church is cool. I even have one friend who said she had to bribe her children just so they’d get up every Sunday to go to Church. I was shocked! Scandalized! Outraged!
I told her that I had to bribe my children to go home from Church, because they always have so much fun spending each Sunday celebrating mass, worshiping God, and partying with the other 10,000+ attendees of The Feast PICC (including all the angels and saints who smile and party with us).
I can’t imagine not being excited to go to Church.
Another friend told me that he stopped going to church altogether because it’s boring. I smiled at him and told him to give it another chance and invited him to come to The Feast. A few months after, my friend came up to me at The Feast and proudly declared that he hadn’t missed a single Sunday since he first attended! Amazing, right?
I’m truly proud of The Feast. Every time I talk about it, I introduce it as “The Happiest Place on Earth”, not because we hold it in an air-conditioned convention center or a cinema or a mall… but because the people who come to The Feast every Sunday are happy people.
People who know they are blessed. People who have no qualms about receiving God’s amazing grace. People who have fallen so helplessly in love with Jesus, that they can’t help but worship Him with all their hearts each time we sing a song of praise.
Friends, here’s what I believe.
I believe that it is the people who make the Church, and not the other way around.
I also believe that we can only change the way we look at our Church when we also change the way we look at Jesus.
Many people think that church is super boring and overly strict because that’s how they see Jesus. They see Jesus as Somebody Who will punish them when they sin, or Somebody Who’s always looking over their shoulder, waiting for them to make even the slightest mistake. And when they did, He’d tell St. Peter to write them off The List of People Who Will Enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus isn’t like that, but many people don’t know that!
So let me tell you the three C’s that will forever change the way you see Jesus and His Church.
The Three C’s that Make Jesus (and the Church) Cool
- Jesus Is Crazy
I have never met anybody as outrageously crazy as Jesus.
I know I’d get a lot of violent reactions for this like, “Bo! You just called Jesus crazy!” or “Bo, won’t you get in trouble for calling the Son of God a lunatic?”
I don’t think so! God knows He’s crazy. Jesus knows He’s crazy. The Holy Spirit knows He’s crazy. Even Mama Mary and the saints know they’re crazy!
Let me defend my point here.
What kind of Father would command His Son to come down from His comfortable couch-throne in heaven to save the souls of all mankind by becoming a man Himself and dying for them?
I’ll tell you what: A crazy Father who’s so crazy about all of His children that He’s willing to sacrifice His only Son for them. It says so in everyone’s favorite (and sometimes only memorized) verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave us His only Son.”
What kind of crazy Son would say, “Ok, Dad. I’ll do it. I’ll leave my super comfortable couch-throne, the wonderful choirs of angels singing Me praise, and every luxury heaven has to offer so I could save all the sinful men from eternal damnation. Oh, and it’s OK to die, too. Torture and being crucified are just icing on the cake.”
I’ll tell you what. A crazy Son who loves us so much that He willingly became man to be with us, to teach us the way to the Father, and finally, to die on the cross for us.
He also did all sorts of crazy things that stirred all sorts of trouble with the Pharisees and Scribes of their time — he dined with sinners, he healed the sick, defended prostitutes, brought people back to life, drove demons away, and defied the rigid rules that the spiritual leaders are so bent on enforcing. I can just imagine the migraines and ulcers He caused everyone by His unconventional way of preaching the Gospel!
We also have a crazy Holy Spirit who gives us every gift we need to fulfill the dreams God has placed in our hearts. We have a crazy mother, who, at the age of fourteen, said yes to carrying the Holy Child even if she was engaged. Finally, we have a crazy legion of saints who followed the life of the crazy God they worship.
Friends, are you crazy enough to live, love and serve like Jesus?
- Jesus Is Charming
Many people seem to think that Jesus is strict, serious and solemn. I can’t blame them! Many of the pictures we have of Jesus portray Him as such. In most pictures, he would have long, brown hair parted neatly in the middle, reaching to his collar. He would have deep blue eyes that seemed to pierce your soul (and eyes that seem to know when you’ve been naughty or nice). He would have a defined nose and a small smile that softens the strong lines of His jaw.
The pictures scattered all over the Internet, the books, the covers of different Bibles, and paintings mostly show Him as someone who is nurturing, kind and reliable, but somebody who is also unapproachable.
I can’t imagine Jesus as somebody who’s unapproachable if He always has a crowd following Him, hungry and thirsty for His miracles and teachings. If Jesus lived today in Hollywood, I’m sure He would always have a legion of paparazzi dogging His every step. I imagine Him being the equivalent of Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, or John Lloyd Cruz during that time.
Jesus couldn’t have had a following of a thousand men, women and children if he weren’t a charming young man. Jesus had a fans club. I’d even go as far as to say that many people might have had a crush on Him!
My favorite picture of Jesus is the picture of The Laughing Christ, originally created by Willis Wheatley. I think it captures the essence of His character — strong but loving, serious but lighthearted.
Jesus welcomed everybody. He loved everybody. Most of all, He allowed everybody to follow Him, too. He never turned anyone away, not even the sinners. He was the one who accepted them, healed them, and delivered them from a life far from grace into a life filled with it.
- Jesus Is Captivating
One day, a man named Simon and his brother Andrew were casting their nets in the Sea of Galilee. They’ve been at it the entire day, but they haven’t gotten a single catch. Suddenly, a stranger walked up to them and told them and said, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Without missing a beat, Simon and Andrew dropped their nets and followed the stranger.
Later, the same stranger walked up to a tax collector named Matthew and told him the same thing, “Follow me.” Matthew left his comfortable office and did the same thing Simon and Andrew did.
They all followed a complete stranger!
Can you imagine this happening today? What if a stranger suddenly walks up to you and tells you, “Follow me?” Would you?
What if you, for instance, suddenly sat down in front of somebody, say, a college student bent on ingesting a thick book for finals, and told him, “Hello, unchurched person. Follow me.” What do you think you’ll get?
Jesus only had to say, “Follow me,” and His disciples just dropped everything they did to follow him. They were held ‘captive’.
There must be something missing in the stories above. How could Jesus have had that kind of charm and charisma to suddenly earn the trust of people who didn’t even know Him? (It certainly wasn’t because of his tantalizing eyes, though that could have been a reason.)
I believe that Jesus, captivating as He was, didn’t just suddenly invite people into following Him. I believe He first established a relationship with them before He invited them to become His disciples.
Jesus must have taken the time — no matter how short it was — to get to know the disciples, and to allow the disciples to get to know Him, before He told them to follow Him. Remember when He called Peter to Him?
Peter was also on His boat, spending the entire day waiting for a big catch that wasn’t happening, when suddenly Jesus walked up to Him and asked him to cast the net on the other side. Lo, and behold! There was the catch he was waiting for!
He first had to show Peter and the other disciples what He was capable of before He asked them to follow Him.
I believed that Jesus first loved the disciples, and that following Him was just their response to His love.
Jesus was cool like that.
The Church of the Holy Fool
Michael Frost, the author of the amazing book entitled Jesus the Fool, wrote about the Church of the Holy Fool in Sheffield, Alabama. It was built by Reverend Ethan Acres, who also happens to be an artist. Reverend Acres was also renovating an old church building to become a retreat house for artists who live in their area. Upon reflecting, Frost realized that there are so many other ‘holy fools’ all over the world. These are people who do absurd, crazy, innovating, outrageous, unconventional and mind-boggling things to do the mission of an equally-absurd, crazy, innovating, outrageous, unconventional and mind boggling Christ.
I, too, have met “holy fools.” In fact, my very own Feast Builder friends are some of them! These crazy people have given their time, talent and treasures, just to help realize the dream of building 1,000 Feasts all over the world.
The thousands of people who serve weekly at the different Feasts are also fools. They could have spent their Sundays going to the mall, watching the latest film, or having dinner with their families and loved ones after going to Church, but instead they would stay the whole day to serve at their respective Feasts.
St. John Paul II is a holy fool. Mahatma Gandhi is a holy fool. Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta is a holy fool. Pope Francis is a holy fool.
These holy fools are crazy people, yes, but these are the people who make going to Church “cool.” The have drawn in thousands of people who are hungry for the Word of God, and they minister to their needs the way Jesus ministered to the people of His time.
Friend, are you crazy, charming and captivating enough to help make our Church cooler?
Article is taken from the February 2015 issue of Kerygma, the #1 Catholic Inspirational magazine in the Philippines.
Photo of The Laughing Christ by Willis Wheatley as it appeared on the February 2015 issue of Kerygma.
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