This is a troubling question. Who is supposed to find it attractive? And what would if mean for faith to be attractive? Is everyone supposed to agree with what I believe?
We know enough about life with God to know that not everyone agrees with us. Some find faith disagreeable, even odious.
But God calls his people to be different, set apart, focussed on living the life he had graced them with before a watching world. They were to reflect his character. They were to be holy, as he is holy. They were his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). No surprise that Jesus called his followers salt and light (Matt 5). No surpise that when Jesus ministered through the towns of Judea thousands flocked to him and hung on his every word. His words were winsome, his faith was attractive, his Kingdom is what they wanted to see.
Opposition was real too. There were some who hated his works and viewed his works as demonic. Opposition grew, he was rejected, abused and crucified. So, people did not always accept Jesus, either. That did not stop him loving them. His death and rising again meant new life for those who believe him. Something happened when people came under his rule: they became an attractive community, so wonderfully new that they enjoyed the favour of all the people (Acts 2:47). Jesus’ call to love one another was coming to beautiful expression. Even when persecuted, those who did not share their faith would sometimes remark, ‘See how they love one another!’ And then, as Peter writes to the scattered, persecuted church, he reminded them how the original call to Israel now belonged to the church:
…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pet 2:9)
Even in the hardest and most difficult times the church is to live a winsome faith. God’s people are to be an appetising taste of the new heavens and the new earth.
Here’s the question: is this what people see in me? Is this what people see in the church? Am I eager to do what is good? Am I keen to reflect this new life Christ has given me to everyone I meet today? Even those I don’t get along with? Do our churches have a culture which enjoys the favour of their local community – even if that community does not believe Jesus?
I have been pastoring churches for over 30 years, and I find this question disturbing, humbling and sometimes haunting. My comfort is Jesus’ promise that he is with me and his church always, and he has all authority and power to have his new creation overflow through me and his people. Hell has its fury, but it shall never overcome the glorious new community Jesus created when he rose from the grave. Living water keeps flowing.
So, I want my faith and my church to be more and more attractive. I want new life to be seen in me. I want the living water of Jesus to overflow in our streets and neighbourhoods.
I have been helped in this by reading Tim Costello’s “Faith” – it’s such a wonderful encouragement to live the attractive life of Christ in the mess of sin and the fall. Short chapters packed with punch and challenge – you could even read it as a devotional.
- For Christians – “God, what good things do you want me to do today?”
- For Churches – “Lord, how do you want us to bring the goodness of your Kingdom into our community?”