Many people today say, “Yes to Jesus” while saying, “No to the church.” Maybe we should expect this in light of the recent child abuse scandal. The level of frustration and anger seems to go way beyond this scandal alone. Indeed, if we consider the various television programmes and movies that contain renditions of the clergy or religious people, we find very few that are presented in a positive light. Mostly they are regarded as figures of ridicule and contempt. The exception is the Salvos. They are the one Christian group that appears to have credibility among the Australian public primarily as a result of their work among the socially disadvantaged. The church, by and large, is invisible to the vast majority of people within our communities and considered to be irrelevant to the everyday lives of ordinary people. However, while people are more open to Jesus than they are to the church, we have to be careful that we don’t read too much into this. Do we need to ask: To which Jesus are they receptive? When they talk about Jesus, are they referring to the Jesus of the Scriptures or the Jesus of their own imagination? We cannot simply assume that when they refer to Jesus that they mean what we mean as committed followers of the crucified one.
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